Friday February 24, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
A new BC action plan to deal with cancer was announced today by Premier David Eby and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
The emphasis is on doing more, including with the support of more base funding in the BC Health budget.
An increase of $270 million in base funding was announced together with some one-time funding of $170 million from the 2022-2023 BC Budget surplus, for a total of $440 million.
Prevent, detect and treat:
“Cancer patients and their loved ones will benefit from expanded access to care as BC launches a new action plan with immediate steps to better prevent, detect and treat cancers, delivering improved care for people now while preparing for the growing needs of the future,” it was stated in today’s news release.
“Nearly every British Columbian has been affected by cancer in some way, through their own diagnosis or that of a family member or friend,” said Premier David Eby. “With this significant investment in cancer care, we can prevent and detect cancer earlier and improve access to treatment. This will help save lives and improve the quality of life of British Columbians, now and into the future.”
$440 million initial investment:
The initial $440-million investment announced today will expand cancer-care teams and service hours, introduce revised pay structures to ensure BC is attractive and competitive for oncologists and cancer-care professionals, improve cancer screening programs, support cancer research, increase Indigenous patient support positions, and support patients who must travel for care from rural communities.
“We’re investing in research, technology and innovation to strengthen cancer care in BC and deliver more innovative, evidence-based care for people when and where they need it,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This action plan will help achieve a cancer-free future for more people, accelerate treatment for patients diagnosed with cancer and help thousands more survive their cancer diagnosis.”
Not waiting for federal:
“We’re not waiting for the federal government,” said Premier Eby today, regarding moving ahead with smart health care initiatives. He said that “BC will continue to do things differently”.
The federal government has in fact taken direction from BC, such as observing and lauding the setup in BC for increasing mental health and addiction supports.
The recent Canada Health Transfer negotiation between the federal and provincial governments (prime minster and premiers) shocked most premiers as to the relatively small additional increase. Provinces and territories are now looking at bilateral agreements with the federal government (i.e. funding based on a list of specific goals or benchmarks, which seems to include more robust data reporting as well as whatever is tailored by each province or territory for its particular challenges).
Rural and remote:
To make access to cancer care more equitable for people living in rural and remote communities, this plan will include increased funding to support expenses related to travelling for cancer care. Also, more cancer centres will be added throughout the province to bring treatment closer to home for people.
“As a cancer survivor and a patient partner, I’ve seen first-hand the kindness, compassion and commitment to putting patients first that’s shared by all of BC Cancer’s dedicated health professionals,” said Penelope Hedges. “With these new investments and BC Cancer’s commitment to keeping patient voices at the forefront, there’s no limit to what we can do to change the lives of people with cancer in our province.”
Paying oncologists more:
Undertaking research and integrating findings is also critical for providing the best cancer care in B.C. The Province is providing a grant to the BC Cancer Foundation to support cancer research and attract highly skilled cancer-care providers.
The Ministry of Health has worked closely with BC Cancer to develop the plan. The commitment and expertise of BC Cancer, health authorities, physicians, nursing and allied health, public health and others who contribute to the cancer-care system are the cornerstones on which this plan is built.
The plan aligns with recommendations made in the In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care report, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
Higher pay for oncologists:
Starting April 1, 2023 oncologists in BC will be paid a base salary of $472,000 which is up from $410,000 and makes BC the highest-paying province or territory in Canada. This is BC putting its money where its mouth is on the importance of dealing with cancer.
Dix noted today that cancer incidence will increase in the population simply as a part of people over age 75 years being a larger component of the overall population in the years soon ahead.
On top of paying more, BC is creating new oncology positions, said Dix today.
BC Cancer Vancouver has over 30 sub-specialized medical oncologists with academic appointments at the University of British Columbia and additional privileges at Vancouver General Hospital.
The Deeley Research Centre at BC Cancer Victoria is a central site for trailblazing immunotherapy research. Researchers at Deeley study how the immune system responds to cancer and how best to enhance this response with forward-looking therapies.
The 10-year cancer-care action plan is supported by B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy, which supports patients by ensuring they get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. This strategy focuses on 70 key actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers in B.C. while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.
===== Quick Facts (provided by BC Health):
* In 2021, more than 30,000 people in B.C. were newly diagnosed with cancer and more than 11,000 died because of cancer.
* Since 2017, B.C. has committed more than $1 billion to support the creation of a strong and sustainable cancer-care system.
* The Province has eliminated the 4,000-person waiting list for the Hereditary Cancer Program, launched the Lung Screening Program and launched the first at-home human papillomavirus (HPV) cervix screening pilots.
* BC Cancer has recently hired more than 325 full-time equivalent positions, including physicians and clinical support staff, to implement a new team-based care model in all six regional cancer centres.
===== Government Links:
B.C’s cancer care action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/CancerPlan2023.pdf
Technical briefing presentation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Cancer_Action_Plan_PPT.pdf
B.C.’s Health Human Resource strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0059-001464
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends covers the news of south Vancouver Island and British Columbia, which a focus on socioeconomic trends including in health and education. Archives include: POLITICS | EDUCATION | HEALTH
The editor and publisher of Island Social Trends is Mary P Brooke, who founded the series of publications that is presently published daily at islandsocialtrends.ca. (Formerly as print publiations: MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, and West Shore Voice News 2014-2020).
Ms Brooke has been covering politics, business, education and communities through a socioeconomic lens since 2008 on south Vancouver Island. She followed and wrote extensively about the COVID pandemic during 2020-2022 (see COVID archive).
Among other qualifications, Ms Brooke holds a B.Sc. in health sciences and a Certificate in Public Relations.