Canada's Major Health Charities Urge Federal Government to Engage in Health Accord Negotiations

TORONTO, Jan. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - A significant majority of Canadians - 85 per cent - say the federal government should be an equal partner in discussions on the future of healthcare in Canada , according to a poll released today by the Canadian Diabetes Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society.

This clear message supports the three charities' strong belief that the federal government must fully engage with the provinces and territories to develop an effective 2014 health accord, especially for those living with chronic disease.

Collaboration

"The federal government must stay connected to the healthcare process. Engagement with the provinces and territories is crucial to ensure all Canadians have equal access to high-quality healthcare," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. "While much of the health accord debate has been about financial transfer payments, it is improving the health of Canadians, regardless of where they live, that must be at the centre of healthcare reforms. We will be watching with interest to see how the federal government engages in these crucial discussions that will have a direct impact on all Canadians for generations to come."

With provincial and territorial premiers poised to meet January 16-17 in Victoria, B.C. to discuss the health accord, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society are sending a clear message about Canadians' top priorities - chronic disease prevention and equal access to drugs and medical devices.

Every year, more than 150,000 Canadians die from one of four major non-communicable diseases - cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. Together these diseases account for 65 per cent of all deaths in Canada.

Access To Drugs and Devices

"Affordable access to medications and devices is essential in managing chronic disease," says Michael Cloutier, President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association. "A pan-Canadian catastrophic drug program, which would ensure that no Canadian has to choose between paying rent or buying medications or devices, must be included in the 2014 health accord."

Poll results support this, with an overwhelming majority of Canadians - 93 per cent - saying that the 2014 health accord should include a plan to ensure no Canadian faces significant financial hardship to buy drugs or medical devices.

Chronic Disease Prevention

The poll also reveals that 94 per cent of Canadians say prevention of chronic diseases and their complications should either be a top (43 per cent) or important but lower priority (51 per cent) for the 2014 health accord discussions, even if it means reallocating resources from other areas of healthcare.

It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of coronary heart disease and stroke, and over 50 per cent of diabetes cases, can be prevented through lifestyle, including healthy eating. In addition, about half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Canadians.

"The renewed health accord must include increased prevention initiatives so fewer Canadians experience the devastating effects of serious chronic diseases," says Bobbe Wood, President, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "The accord must also ensure that high-quality, timely and ongoing assistance is available to people living with such conditions."

About the poll
The telephone poll was conducted by Environics.  Environics interviewed 1,000 Canadians aged 18 yrs+ across Canada during the period December 6 - 11, 2011. The margin of error is +/-3.10% at 95%.

Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to fightback.ca to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

Canadian Diabetes Association
Across the country, the Canadian Diabetes Association is leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure.  Our community-based network of supporters help us provide education and services to people living with diabetes, advocate for our cause, break ground towards a cure and translate research into practical applications.  Please visit diabetes.ca, join us on facebook.com/CanadianDiabetesAssociation, follow us on Twitter @DiabetesAssoc, or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

For further information:

Canadian Cancer Society
Alexa Giorgi
416 934-5338

Randi Garcha
Canadian Diabetes Association
T: (416) 408-7071 | C: (647) 292-9641

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Eileen Melnick McCarthy
613 569-4361, ext 318