Volume 94, Issue 18


NEWS

Band was never scheduled: agent

BOG sets mandate against sweatshops

Weldon fails grade

Trudeau dead at 80

Hockey's changing face

High schools may turn to parents for help

Line-ups force cancer patients to the US

Line-ups force cancer patients to the US



By Chris Lackner and Paula Zack
Gazette Staff



A lack of funding and severe staff shortages have prompted Canadians to head south of the border for cancer care.

Richard Lauzon, executive director of the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncologists, said the association recently reported more than 2,500 Canadian cancer patients are referred yearly to the United States for treatment.

Lauzon said there remains a shortage of medical students who are deciding to practice oncology and radiology due to cuts in funding and a difficult examination process. "Unfortunately, the rates of cancer in Canada are high and the country does not produce enough doctors."

Jan Graves, spokesperson for the London Health Sciences Centre, said there has been a slashing of funds for both residencies and training. She said more students are interested in going to the US, where patients pay for their care and institutions are better funded.

Libby Brown, media spokesperson for the British Columbia Cancer Agency, said they have unlimited treatment capacity in the US because of the American for-profit health care system.

"A number of provinces are sending people to the United States because they don't have the staff or the equipment to handle the volume of patients," she explained.

Donald Potter, president of the Southeast Michigan Hospital Council, said cuts to Canada's provincial health care system have sent some of Ontario's best physicians to the United States for better employment conditions. He said numerous Canadian patients have also crossed the border for treatment.

Potter said American medical institutions are more than happy to receive Canadian patient referrals. "We've got the resources," he said. "Americans do not like to wait in line."

Kristin Jenkins, communications manager for Cancer Care Ontario, said only four of the nine cancer treatment facilities in Ontario are sending patients to the United States.

Jenkins added three new cancer centres are planned for Ontario over the next three years in Kitchener, Missisauga and Oshawa. "It's not lack of funding anymore, or lack of infrastructure – it's staff shortages," she said.

Still, Dan Strasbourgh, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said the governemnt has committed $23 million in response to the problem. "Cancer care is a priority for the Ministry," he said. "We've made substantial funding increases over the last few years."


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