The Province is launching a 10-year Cancer action plan with immediate steps to better prevent, detect, and treat cancers, delivering improved care for patients and their loved ones. An initial $440 million investment will improve access to timely, person-centred care with new investments in people, technology, and innovation. This is good news for patients, families and communities.
Cancer patients and their loved ones will benefit from expanded access to care as B.C. 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.
“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.
“We’re investing in research, technology and innovation to strengthen cancer care in B.C. and deliver more innovative, evidence-based care for people when and where they need it,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “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.”
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.
- 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.
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
Four backgrounders follow.
What people are saying about cancer-care plan
Harwinder Sandhu, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care –
“Like far too many people in the province, I know first-hand that there are few things as devastating as losing a loved one to cancer. That’s why we working hard every day to extend the length and improve quality of life for cancer patients. That way, their families won’t have to experience the same loss and patients will receive life-saving and timely care when they need it.”
Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health –
“As the MLA for the North Coast, representing rural, remote and Indigenous communities, I know some populations are impacted by cancer more than others. For some patients, the greatest obstacle between them and life-changing cancer care is the distance they must travel and costs incurred by that travel to receive it. The costs and modes of travel, weather and road conditions are some of the barriers to treatment. That’s why we are taking action to address these disparities by making cancer care in the province more accessible for people living in rural areas.”
Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity –
“Early detection of cancer is critical to reducing the impact of cancer on our population, and successful early detection occurs through cancer screening programs. I am thrilled that our government is targeting the elimination of cervical cancer through this new plan by expanding HPV vaccination programs for young people and implementing modern HPV at-home screening tests.”
Dr. David Byres, president and CEO, Provincial Health Services Authority –
“Our strong partnerships with all the health authorities, along with the passion and commitment of our physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and health professionals, are a strong foundation on which we build this plan to do our collective best for all patients.”
Heather Findlay, chief operating officer, BC Cancer –
“This is a remarkable investment in our people, in the staff and care providers who provide compassionate care during challenging times, and in the patients and families who inspire us. Now we move forward with the transformative work that will enable our health-care teams and scientific community to deliver timely, person-centred cancer care now and in the future.”
Dr. Kim Chi, chief medical officer, BC Cancer –
“This will be the most significant investment in cancer care the province has ever seen. It will save lives and address the growing demand for cancer care we have today and for the next 10 years as our population grows and ages.”
Warren Clarmont, member of the Gitanmaax Band of the Gitxsan First Nation, and director, Indigenous Cancer Care, BC Cancer –
“Today’s announcement demonstrates that government is committed to taking action to improve cancer outcomes and reduce disparities in access and quality of care for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in B.C. This commitment will further enhance our efforts to implement the Indigenous Cancer Strategy with our partners and create a culturally safe cancer system for Indigenous patients, families and communities for generations to come.”
Sarah Roth, president and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation –
“BC Cancer Foundation has put BC Cancer at the global forefront in cancer research and care, saving and extending countless lives. This grant from the provincial government, in partnership with our community of over 100,000 donors, will accelerate our ability to deliver more precise and more effective treatments to British Columbians.”
Dr. Craig Earle, CEO, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) –
“The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer commends British Columbia for its commitment to cancer care set out in this ambitious 10-year plan that prioritizes health equity and access to cancer care. The plan aligns well with the priorities of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control and will lead to improved cancer outcomes for British Columbians. CPAC looks forward to ongoing collaboration with BC Cancer and partners in British Columbia to eliminate cervical cancer, increase participation in cancer screening, bring care closer to home for Indigenous people and those in rural and remote communities and other shared priorities.”
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.
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.