B.C. launches action plan to better detect, treat, prevent cancers with an initial $440-million investment

B.C. on Friday launched 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.

“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.”

An initial $440-million investment will expand cancer-care teams and service hours, introduce revised pay structures to ensure B.C. 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.

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.”

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.

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.

(See 3 backgrounders below)


Quick Facts:

* 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.


Learn More:

To read B.C’s cancer care action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/CancerPlan2023.pdf

To view the technical briefing presentation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Cancer_Action_Plan_PPT.pdf

To learn more about B.C.’s Health Human Resource strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0059-001464


Immediate actions launching to strengthen cancer-care services, treatment

Adding $270 million over three years to BC Cancer’s budget to support foundational work, including:

* Expanding hours of operation at cancer centres to maximize technology and equipment use and expand patient access to imaging and treatments.

* Expanding access to radiation therapy.

* Improving cancer-screening programs and continuing to expand the Hereditary Cancer Program.

* Adding more Indigenous patient support positions.

* Introducing a new compensation model for oncologists that will take effect April 2023 to make B.C. more competitive with other Canadian jurisdictions, and address recruitment and retention of oncologists and general practitioner oncologists.

Providing a $170 million grant to the BC Cancer Foundation to support cancer research and attract the skilled cancer-care providers needed to provide specialized treatments including:

* Delivering clinical trials across all cancer centres in the province, allowing for greater access for patients living outside of large city centres to participate in clinical trials.

* Increasing radiation oncology trials that study treatment approaches, which require fewer visits, and precision radiotherapy research to enhance efficacy while reducing toxicity from radiation treatments.

* Enhancing capacity in genomic testing to deliver optimal treatment for every patient.

* Expanding access to new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, treatments and technologies, and establishing innovative cancer treatment programs.

* Supporting emerging multi-disciplinary research programs.

* Enhancing capacity in population health and health economics research.

* Providing research start-up and seed grants to attract research talent.

* Creating four endowed leadership and research chairs within the foundation to help recruit and retain key clinical researchers that are vital to the long-term success of BC Cancer.

* Creating scholarships within the foundation to support schooling for critical cancer medical positions, such as radiation therapists and technologists (particularly in radiotherapy and PET/CT scans) and medical physicists.

* Adding new funding to support people living in rural and remote communities who need to travel for cancer care.


Details about B.C.’s 10-year cancer action plan

B.C.’s 10-year cancer action plan with new investments in people, technology and innovation in the delivery of care will:

* secure a cancer-free future for more people, including the elimination of cervical cancer in B.C.;

* help thousands more people survive their cancer diagnosis and extend the duration and quality of life for those living with cancer; and

* ensure B.C.’s cancer system delivers modern, evidence-based care.

These goals will be achieved by acting across four areas of focus.

Prevent and detect

Find cancer sooner in patients and prevent cancer by:

* enhancing prevention strategies with an emphasis on at risk populations;

* strengthening and expanding best practice screening programs; and

* optimizing the pathway from suspicion of cancer to diagnoses and staging.


Continue to ensure timely access to cancer treatment by:

* enhancing equity and access to cancer surgery services;

* ensuring and expanding access to evidence-based radiotherapy services and systemic therapies;

* enhancing specialized cancer services; and

* enhancing connection to palliative care and survivorship services.

Team care

Optimize cancer care through collaboration and partnership by:

* enhancing provincial reach through networks, primary care and community providers;

* supporting multi-disciplinary cancer teams in enhancement of service delivery practices;

* integrating research and care; and

* ensuring culturally safe and equitable care for Indigenous cancer patients.

Support and innovate

Revitalize the provincial cancer-care system by:

* stabilizing and enhancing the cancer care workforce;

* innovating and advancing data and digital means to inform and improve care; and

* planning for and delivering capital and IMIT infrastructures to support key priorities.


Recent cancer care investments throughout B.C.

The new plan builds on more than $1 billion in investments since 2017 to support the creation of a strong and sustainable cancer-care system in B.C., including:

* In September 2017, the Province expanded the publicly funded HPV vaccine program in British Columbia through a school-based program to include Grade 6 children.

* In December 2017, in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation BC, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and BC Cancer, the Province announced an Indigenous cancer strategy to improve cancer care and supports for Indigenous Peoples across B.C.

* In July 2019, the Province announced the third publicly funded PET/CT scanner in B.C. and the first to be located in Victoria and outside of the Lower Mainland.

* In November 2019, the Province launched a 10-point Youth Vaping Provincial Action Plan to address the rise of youth vaping.

* In 2020, BC Cancer Research became a formal UBC (University of British Columbia) senate-approved and PHSA-approved research institute.

* In August 2020, the Province announced the fourth publicly funded PET/CT scanner in B.C.

* In November 2021, the Province provided $10 million to the Centre for Cancer Prevention and Support to boost research and innovation for cancer prevention and survivor assistance by connecting discoveries more rapidly to programs.

* In December 2021, the Province launched the first at-home HPV cervix-screening pilots.

* In July 2022, the Province added six Indigenous patient navigators to help patients who identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit receive supportive care that is trauma informed and culturally safe.

* In March 2022, the Province launched the Lung Screening Program, providing access to eligible high-risk people at 36 sites throughout the province.

* In 2022, government provided services to 4,000 people queued in the Hereditary Cancer Program wait list.

* As of Jan. 31, 2023, BC Cancer has been able to hire to fill more than 325 FTE positions.


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