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medicationAs the NDP candidate in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, I was surprised and disturbed at the growing concern among local residents over lack of access to take-home cancer drugs. In fact, a substantial number of the emails I've received over the past two weeks have been about this.

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, but just try to imagine how you'd feel if you were told by your oncologist that the treatment you need, the one that's best for your cancer, isn't available to you simply because it comes in the form of a pill.

Ontario patients aged 25 to 64 face two different cancer treatment systems. The one for in-hospital IV treatments is fully funded. The other for treatment taken in pill form at home includes delays, administrative challenges and out-of-pocket costs to the patient.

If the best treatment for your cancer only comes in a pill – and you're either not young enough or not old enough – get ready for added stress and a significant hit to your bank account. How is this fair?

I fully support Andrea Horwath and the NDP's plan to guarantee universal access to take-home cancer medications, making sure that patients have access to the treatments they need with no out-of-pocket costs. Having cancer is stressful enough, without having additional stress of knowing there are take-home treatments available in other provinces that aren't available in Ontario.

We need to improve healthcare in many other ways, too - hospital funding that keeps up with inflation and our community needs, and a public inquiry into the problems that have been plaguing the long-term care system. I know we can make life better for our loved ones who need to live in long-term care homes. A universal pharmacare program, which will provide prescription drug coverage for all Ontarians, can help stop people from getting sicker.

As someone who's demonstrated a strong interest in health issues over many years, I want to give everyone facing a battle with cancer the best fighting chance by making the treatment their doctor prescribes available, free of charge, no matter when and where they need it. That's change for the better!

Karen Gventer
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound NDP Provincial Candidate

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