Got cancer? Leave Ontario? Coalition of Citizens hold press conference to make cancer an election issue

    Ontario ranks among the worst in the country in funding for newer
    cancer drugs and PET scans

    TORONTO, Sept. 18 /CNW/ - Ontario may be one of the richest provinces in
Canada, but its cancer patients receive the poorest access to treatments. If
Ontarians want change they must vote for change is the sentiment of today's
press conference at Queen's Park launching the campaign, "Cancer? Vote for
Access." Canada's Association for the 50 Plus (CARP) joins forces with the
Ontario Citizens Cancer Coalition (OCCC) launching this grass-roots campaign
demanding that Ontario politicians commit to providing better access to cancer
drugs and diagnostic positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
    CARP and the OCCC are demanding that leaders from the three main parties
commit to bring Ontario at par with British Columbia for access to new
intravenous cancer drugs and at par with Quebec for access to PET scan imaging
by the end of 2008. Letters asking for a firm commitment on the campaign's two
demands were sent to Dalton McGuinty, John Tory and Howard Hampton on
September 11, 2007 with a one week deadline for a response.
    Campaign members and supporters will fight to defeat vulnerable
candidates belonging to the party(ies) that do not make a clear commitment to
bringing in the necessary changes in Ontario's cancer policy if elected. CARP
and the OCCC intend to publicize the candidate's responses on September 25.
    "Cancer affects everyone and Ontarians shouldn't have to fight to get the
care they need," said Holly Vengroff, director of external relations, CARP.
"We at CARP have been fighting for improvements to our healthcare system
through our NoMoreWaiting campaign and that is why we have decided to support
the OCCC and intend to mobilize our membership to make this an election
    "Ontario ranks as one of the worst provinces in the country in terms of
providing funding for access to newer intravenous cancer drugs and PET scans,"
said Antonia Codispoti, co-founder, OCCC. "Currently in Ontario, only four
from a list of 24 newer intravenous cancer drugs are fully funded for all
citizens compared to 20 in British Columbia. Similarly, only six PET scans are
fully funded in Ontario for every 100,000 people, while Quebec funds 209 per
100,000 people."
    At today's press conference, supporters of the campaign will hear from
cancer patients, some of who had to leave the province in order to get the
care they need. Many have also had to fight the Ontario government in court
for compensation.
    Codispoti added: "As the wife of a seven year cancer survivor, I know
first hand how difficult it is to navigate the system. Patients and their
families should be focusing their strength on treatment and recovery not
expending valuable energy on fighting Ontario's health care system. Our
demands for better cancer care will be heard at the ballot box."
    Concerned citizens who wish to join the fight can find more information

    About PET scans

    Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a
diagnostic examination used to evaluate a variety of diseases. PET scans are
used most often to detect cancer and to examine the effects of cancer therapy.

    About OCCC

    The Ontario Citizens Cancer Coalition (OCCC) was founded by Antonia
Codispoti and Hilda Mackow to advocate for better access to life saving cancer
drugs and PET scans for Ontarians. The OCCC is funded entirely by its members
and concerned citizens and receives no funds from other organizations.

    About CARP

    Founded in 1984, CARP, Canada's Association for the 50 Plus, is a
non-profit, national organization representing over 400,000 members aged 50
plus who are retired or still working.
    Its mandate, to promote and protect the rights and quality of life of
mature adults through the development of practical recommendations on policy,
works for the benefit of the over 11 million Canadians aged 50 plus.
    CARP actively works with government on policy initiatives, providing
information on key political, economic and social issues. The association also
negotiates group benefits and special agreements on services and products for
its members. CARP does not receive operating funds from any level of
    CARP publishes a magazine and, through a partnership with The 50Plus
Group, produces a web site ( and newsletter (CARPAction Online)
for its members. For more information, please visit

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Mansfield Communications Inc.,
Tel: (416) 599-0024; Susana Hsu,, cell: (416) 837-7318; or
Pereina Choudhury,, cell: (416) 605-4421

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