Ride the RideauTM

September 7, 2013

Fighting Cancer in Ontario

Ontario is in the midst of a provincial election campaign. The three major parties are set to propose differing approaches to health care, which has always been an election issue for most Canadians.  

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) recently published its annual Report Card on Health Care for Cancer showing that three provinces made solid progress last year in reducing wait times for surgery and diagnosis, ensuring that more patients receive their test results in less than four weeks, and helping patients get appointments with oncologists.   

Of the three provinces, Ontario lags behind in most areas.   In fairness, Ontario has been down this road before when it comes to health care and cancer patients. Five years ago, under a Liberal government that promised much but delivered little when it came to fighting cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society published a report card on progress in addressing six barriers that were identified in the then-current cancer system.   

What a difference a change of government makes! Since February 2013, when the current Conservative party took office in Ontario, there has been encouraging progress in helping people with cancer get faster access to diagnostic tests and surgery.   The Ontario government also made good on its pledge to improve wait times for radiation treatment, which is a crucial element in cancer care.   

In his 2014 budget, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa allocated an additional $130 million to cancer-care wait times and invested $75 million to hire more nurses.

The other good news from the Report Card on Health Care for Cancer is that Canadians with cancer are being diagnosed sooner.   It used to be the case that about 20 percent of cancers were diagnosed at stage 3, when it was much harder to treat, but now 80 per cent are diagnosed at stage 1 or 2. That's largely due to increased awareness and availability of screening tests like mammograms for women and pap smears for cervical cancer.   These simple tests save lives.

Why is Ontario lagging behind in the area of surgery and other treatments?

The short answer is that it takes time to get things up and running after an election.    Let's hope that this time, after all the hard work has been done by cancer advocates for years, Queen's Park will not let us down.

It is also worth noting that the recent federal budget commits $5 billion over the next 11 years to improving home care and reducing wait times for critical health services.   The Canadian Cancer Society welcomes these investments, which we feel will be good for cancer patients and their families across Canada.   

Ontario's four main party leaders – Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak, New Democratic Party Andrea Horwath and the leaders of the Green Party and the Trillium Party – were invited to meet with CCS advocates and explore how they would improve access to cancer care and services for people living with cancer.

Canadian online casino donates funds for cancer patients

Casinos are known for their hospitality, but one casino in particular has shown the true meaning of it. Canadian online casino Rama is donating funds to help cancer patients pay for their treatment.

The idea started when casino employees began brainstorming different ways they could raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society during its Month of Giving initiative in April 2013. One employee suggested that by donating $1 every time an infinitum bet won, they would be able to raise a lot of money.

With the help of Infinitum Gaming Technologies, Casino Rama was able to implement this idea.

"We were really excited about it," said Tracy Oliver, Director of Fund Development for the Canadian Cancer Society's Central and South West Ontario Division. "It's given us great reach into the community."

The casino has raised $35,000 in just four months and expects to raise even more money throughout the year.

"We are really thrilled with this program," said Olivier. "There is definitely a chance that we will do something like this again next year."

Coupled with the money that is donated by customers at the till, Casino Rama has raised $100,000 for cancer research since April. The funds are split evenly between the Canadian Cancer Society and Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.

Casino Rama also donates $1 for every bet the slot machines' reels line up right. The machines are set to pay out at about 1 in 150 spins, so it isn't anything unusual.