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Speaking up for CancerCare Manitoba


Monday April 8, I asked, in Question Period, about the CancerCare Manitoba review.  The government's first attempt to put together a review did not work,  I asked about the plans for the revised review and for some certainty that the review would be about improving the quality of cancer prevention and care, and not just about cutting spending.  My questions and the govenrment's responses are below. 
CancerCare Manitoba - Government Review
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, let me start today by paying tribute to Arnold Frieman, a great entrepreneur and builder who was eulogized this morning by Rabbi Alan Green.
      My question today is about CancerCare Manitoba. The government's review process didn't work.
      Why didn't it work, and what is the government's next step with respect to CancerCare Manitoba?
Hon. Cameron Friesen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): I thank the member for the question. It's important to undertake this operational review of CancerCare Manitoba. We believe that every opportunity should be explored to be able to deliver cancer programming and services to Manitobans.            
      This is something that is agreed to by CancerCare Manitoba and I can tell you that the CEO for CancerCare was there that day when we announced this. I look forward to answering the question of the member even further in my next response.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker,  so the government will continue with a review. What's the process for the review? What's the timeline for the review? What will be the goal of the review?
      Will it be to find efficiencies, the word the government uses for spending cuts, or will it be to build on what has been achieved so far so that CancerCare Manitoba can provide even better cancer prevention and treatment for Manitobans?
      Indeed, I note in this context that the Premier (Mr. Pallister) has already dramatically reduced funding for Research Manitoba, the very body that funds the research needed to improve prevention and care.
Mr. Friesen: We would have preferred, of course, that the request for proposals would have returned a successful proponent.
      The member should understand, though, that when it came to undertaking to secure a third party for this engagement it is a complicated thing to look for someone with the necessary clinical, operational, and financial expertise in acute medicine, including cancer care.
      So in this case, we are committed to the goal that we originally stated. We will look for other ways to advance this exercise, but we need to make sure that CancerCare is delivering those services to the very best of their ability because we know that the demand is only going to increase in future.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights on a final supplementary.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, I note the Minister of Health is copying the previous NDP minister of Health in answering by saying that, oh, it's too complex and therefore we can't do much about it.
      Let me follow-up: Will the government focus on improving prevention and care, or will it, as it has done with previous reviews, focus primarily on where there can be cuts in funding, focusing on cuts in funding and putting people at CancerCare Manitoba into the "valley of despair" to which this government has subjected so many other health-care workers?
      Is that what the government's goal is? 
Mr. Friesen: Well, Madam Speaker, now the member has just entered into the valley of misinformation.
      Madam Speaker, to be clear, the changes undertaken in our amendments in Bill 10 establish CancerCare Manitoba as the cancer care delivery organization for this province. We need to ensure that everything is being done to make sure that there is capacity not just now, but five years from now, 10 years from now.
      I remind that member that these were the same things that the CEO for CancerCare said when we took this engagement on and said this is the way we build capacity for the future.
      We're getting better health care sooner for all Manitobans. That includes CancerCare.

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