CancerCare Manitoba
News Item

September 15, 2008

Addressing The Risk, Strengthening Care; Province Invests $8.6 Million In New Cancer Funding: Ministers

An $8.6-million increase in new cancer funding will improve cancer prevention, help detect cancer earlier, strengthen treatment options and enhance patient care, Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross announced today.

"Earlier this year, we announced new investments to expand cancer prevention and screening, and today we're aggressively building on that work," Oswald said. "We are committed to investing the very significant funds needed to do everything we can to help prevent Manitobans from getting cancer and improving care for those battling the disease."

Today's $8.6-million investment to strengthen the province's strategic cancer framework will:

  • fund the development of a new online risk assessment tool to help Manitobans assess their risk of chronic conditions, including cancer, and expand awareness about what they can do to reduce their risk;
  • develop a new Dial-a-Dietitian program that will allow Manitobans to contact a dietitian, at no charge, for advice on healthy eating options to reduce their cancer risk;
  • expand the Manitoba Colorectal Cancer Screening Program by funding and distributing an additional 20,000 test kits each year, further ensuring the simple-to-complete tests are available for eligible Manitobans who request one, as well as raising awareness of the need for testing for those at risk;
  • fund an additional 3,150 colonoscopy exams co-ordinated across the province each year; and
  • provide access to additional leading-edge cancer drugs prioritized according to recommendations made by CancerCare.

The minister noted today's $8.6-million announcement includes over $3 million in new annual funding for cancer drugs, bringing the province's oncology drug budget to $31 million per year, more than double the amount the province invested in cancer drugs in 1999.

"Together, these new initiatives build on the work we've done to develop and implement our strategic framework on cancer," said Irvin-Ross. "We will continue to work with our partners to invest in prevention, early detection and quality care and treatment initiatives so we can reduce the burden of cancer in Manitoba."

The province's breast-cancer screening protocol has also been updated, Irvin-Ross said, ensuring women over the medically identified target age of 50 to 69 can continue to easily access screenings without a doctor's referral should they choose.

"With the combined energies and expertise of our partners, today's announcement attacks cancer on multiple fronts with a focus on prevention and early detection, as well as treatment," said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, president and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba. "This funding will improve access and reduce the burden of cancer in Manitoba for years to come."

"The Canadian Cancer Society applauds the ministers of health and healthy living for their continued commitment to reducing the impact of colorectal cancer on Manitobans," said Mark McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society, Manitoba Division. "We commit to use our relationship with Manitobans to support their participation in the screening program."

Today's announcement builds on a series of recent investments to enhance cancer screening, prevention and treatment in Manitoba including:

  • new annual funding for 12,500 additional breast cancer screenings in Manitoba per year;
  • announcing a provincewide voluntary cervical cancer prevention initiative, to begin this year;
  • tripling the number of beds dedicated to radiation oncology;
  • announcing the most aggressive wait-list guarantee in Canada for cancer radiation therapy; and
  • developing a comprehensive strategic framework to guide health-care professionals and government in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Cancer Services in Manitoba: A Strategic Framework, Manitoba's strategy to encourage partners from government and the health-care sector to work collaboratively toward a comprehensive approach to improve cancer outcomes, is available at

Strengthening Cancer Prevention, Improving Cancer Care

The province is investing more than $8.6 million over two years to combat cancer in Manitoba. The funding will be used to expand resources aimed at improving cancer prevention, detecting cancer earlier and enhancing treatment options for Manitobans living with cancer.

Assess-Your-Risk E-tool: The province will invest $300,000 toward the development of a web-based tool that will allow Manitobans to help assess their individual risk of chronic conditions. It will also provide Manitobans with information to make healthy lifestyle choices that will help them reduce their risk.

Dial-a-Dietitian Program: The province will invest $214,000 to develop a new Dial-a-Dietitian service through Health Links?Info Santé. The pilot program will allow Manitobans to contact a dietitian for free advice on healthy eating options to reduce their cancer risk.

Expanding Colorectal Cancer Screening: More than $2.8 million in new funding will be used to expand the Manitoba Colorectal Cancer Screening Program. This will allow the distribution of an additional 20,000 test kits this year and increased numbers in following years to allow screening for an increased number of Manitobans between the ages of 50 and 74 who are most at risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Fecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBTs): Tests will be available through physicians? offices, the Manitoba Breast Screening Program and the Manitoba Colorectal Cancer Screening Program.

Increasing Numbers of Colonoscopies: People who have a positive test result may require followup testing with a colonoscopy, a minor surgical procedure. The province will provide more than $2.1 million to fund an additional 3,150 colonoscopies across the province each year. Followup care will be centrally co-ordinated in consultation with the person?s primary care physician.

Enhanced Drug Coverage: More than $3.3 million in new funding will be used to provide access to additional high-priority cancer drugs to be identified by CancerCare Manitoba. These may include drugs used to treat breast, lung, colorectal and renal cell cancer.

Since 1999, the province has made significant investments in cancer prevention and treatment across Manitoba including:

  • investing more than $12 million in new and replacement linear accelerators and treatment vaults, providing CancerCare Manitoba with state-of-the art equipment and additional treatment capacity;
  • investing $7.5 million to purchase a world-class surgical tool, expected to be operational next year, that will allow non-invasive treatment of cancers in all parts of the body that would otherwise require invasive surgery or previously would have been considered inoperable;
  • committing more than $20 million to develop an expanded western Manitoba regional cancer centre in Brandon;
  • tripling the number of new radiation therapy beds at the Health Sciences Centre;
  • investing $3.1 for a new gamma knife at the Health Sciences Centre, allowing faster treatment of a broader range of complex cancers;
  • investing $3.8 million in construction to expand outpatient chemotherapy and obstetrics at Steinbach?s Bethesda Hospital;
  • opening community cancer sites in Deloraine, Russell, Neepawa, Hamiota and Pinawa;
  • increasing funded oncologist positions at CancerCare Manitoba to 46 from 37;
  • implementing the first colorectal screening program in Canada; and
  • developing the first prostate cancer public awareness program in Canada and investing over $3.4 million in the Manitoba Prostate Centre.

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