The need to better support CancerCare Manitoba and to take measures like addressing contaminated sites to reduce cancer.
On November 23rd, my questions in Question Period focused on the need to support CancerCare Manitoba and its efforts to prevent and treat cancer rather than undermining this important organization.
CancerCare Manitoba - Project Cancellation
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, CancerCare Manitoba is an extraordinary institution with outcomes that are as good or better than anywhere else in Canada or, indeed, in the world.
When I toured the province earlier this year, while Manitobans had many concerns, their feedback on CancerCare was very positive. It offers the best specialist service in Manitoba.
CancerCare had been promised a new facility that would have taken cancer treatment in our province to the next level, and this government cancelled it.
As part of their review of CancerCare, I ask: Will this government measure how many years Manitoba has been set back by the cancellation of this project?
Hon. Cameron Friesen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): The member is correct that there is a review ongoing on CancerCare Manitoba. I recall it was only about two or three weeks ago that members of the opposition tried to suggest that it's a terrible idea to actually look at the operational standards and operational procedures of CancerCare.
And then the CEO for CancerCare stood up and said this is exactly the work that we must all be engaged in doing. If there is an advancement in Quebec and BC and Saskatchewan in cancer care, we want to know about it.
We take the side of evidence to get better results for Manitobans. What do they do? They continue to throw up their hands and try to agitate and create fear.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Industrial Pollution and Cancer - Contaminated Site Cleanup
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, lead and heavy metals are associated, when ingested, with a higher instance of gastric cancers. Lead is listed as a probable carcinogen. We are all deeply concerned about contaminants from industrial pollutions, whether it's at northern mine sites or in St. Boniface or in Weston.
Madam Speaker, one of the best ways to help prevent cancer would be through clean up of contaminated sites.
And yet, there is no reference whatsoever to cleaning up contaminated sites in the Throne Speech or, indeed, in the review of CancerCare Manitoba.
Is this because the Premier (Mr. Pallister) is only interested in cutting costs and has no real interest in the health or health care of Manitobans?
Hon. Rochelle Squires (Minister of Sustainable Development): In typical Liberal fashion, this member continues to put incorrect information on the record. In fact, our government is investing a historic $20 million in cleaning up contaminated sites left behind by the NDP.
Our government is taking real, meaningful action on cleaning up contaminated sites, abandoned mine sites throughout the province and lead contamination in St. Boniface, in Point Douglas and in Logan and throughout the province of Manitoba.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.
CancerCare Manitoba - Government Review
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, if there's one part of Manitoba's health-care system that works well, it is CancerCare. It is effective at saving lives. We know where the systems are failing, where there are problems: mental health, in addictions, in diabetes prevention. We know there's not enough care for women when it comes to heart and stroke. We know there are too many people in Manitoba who struggle to pay for their medication.
CancerCare works. Why doesn't this government leave CancerCare, which is working well, alone and focus on what's broken instead of what they're doing: focusing on what's working well and breaking it?
Hon. Cameron Friesen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): Well, Madam Speaker, that's quite the assertion from the member. The assertion is that the system is just fine exactly the way it is, don't change a thing.
Except that, in the experience of Manitobans, what they understand is that while we've had one of the most expensive systems in Canada for years, we've failed to get the results. And the evidence says it's because we failed to locate and organize our resources to help doctors and nurses deliver better services.
And that is why yesterday we gave a $5.3‑million investment for more hips and knees and cataracts, harnessing the efficiency in the system, putting–into better system delivery for Manitobans. And why? Because Manitobans deserve better health care sooner.