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Canadian Breast Cancer Network Organizes
Adopt-a-Riding Campaign

Federal election candidates asked to respond to recent survey revealing the significant financial cost of having breast cancer

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) is a survivor-directed, national network of organizations and individuals. Its mission is to provide a national link between all groups and individuals concerned about breast cancer and to represent the concerns of all Canadians affected by breast cancer and those at risk. CBCN has 76 partner groups, over 150 member groups and hundreds of individual members who support the work of the Network.

A 2004 Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) survey of nearly 500 women with breast cancer shows that there is a significant financial impact on women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and their families. Not only will those diagnosed with breast cancer (21,000 new cases every year) struggle with the physical and emotional impact of the disease, they will also be faced with unexpected and stressful financial costs.

Most women struggle with financial issues as soon as they are diagnosed with breast cancer. This happens at a time when they should be concentrating fully on getting through treatment and recovery rather than dealing with the added stress of worrying about how they will support themselves when their employment insurance runs out, how they will make mortgage payments, and where to find money to cover the cost of much-needed drugs as well as the cost of travel and childcare when they are away from home for weeks of treatment.

This shouldn’t happen in today’s Canada! The Federal government has a role to play in making sure that in the future, women diagnosed with breast cancer receive more financial support during diagnosis and treatment.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network has organized a national adopt-a-riding campaign to educate candidates about these issues. As part of this campaign, party leaders and all other candidates are being asked to respond to the following questions:

Question 1: Employment Insurance

Survey results: When asked whether 15 weeks of Employment Insurance benefits were enough to get them through treatment, 75% of respondents said they were not long enough. Note that 76% of respondents reported being off work for over 15 weeks.

If elected, will your party bring forward changes to Employment Insurance to lengthen sickness benefits for Canadians undergoing treatment for breast and other cancers as well as other illnesses that require long periods of treatment?

Question 2: Universal Drug Access

Survey Results: 34% of respondents reported that all drugs were free of charge, while 66% of respondents reported that they had to pay for drugs

If elected, will your party work actively with and encourage the provincial and territorial governments to increase the speed of drug approval as well as to standardize formularies in order to provide Canadians with universal up-to-date quality drug access no matter where they live?

Question 3: Income Tax

Survey results:

Childcare: 44% of respondents required childcare during treatment; of these, 24% of childcare costs were completely paid by the respondent

Cost of drugs: 66% of respondents reported that they had to pay for drugs
Travel for treatment: 39% of respondents travelled over 50 km to get to the doctor’s office and to the hospital, while 61% had to travel over 50 km to get to the cancer centre. Parking at the hospital and cancer centre was also very costly

Homecare: 55% of respondents required homecare during treatment. Of those, 9% either completely or partially had to pay for homecare services themselves

Income during treatment: 19% of respondents were supported by their spouses/partners, remortgaged their houses, were given loans from family members or friends, or somehow made do

If elected, will your party make changes to the Income Tax Act so that Canadians who incur expenses while undergoing treatment for breast and other cancers as well as other illnesses can deduct these expenses from their income? These expenses would include childcare; elder care; homecare; drugs; travel (mileage, bus tickets/passes, taxis, train or airline tickets, lodging, meals, parking) and other treatment-related costs.

Responses will be posted on the Network’s website (, which receives nearly 2 million hits a month, and included in CBCN’s e-letter to inform voters who have been affected by breast and other cancers.

For further information on results of the survey, or to become a volunteer and adopt your Riding, contact:

Jackie Manthorne
Executive Director
[email protected]
1-800-685-8820, ext. 222

Contact Sue Richards at [email protected]

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