Archived News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

December 1, 2011


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Manitoba Moving Forward with $40-million, System-wide Cancer Strategy: Premier

MORDEN-WINKLER -- Manitoba’s first regional CancerCare hub will soon open as part of the province’s $40-million commitment to help Manitobans affected by cancer, Premier Greg Selinger announced today at the Boundary Trails Health Centre.

“Today, we’re following through on our commitment to fight cancer together by connecting patients, patient navigators, doctors, nurses and other health-care providers to provide faster access to testing, diagnosis and treatment,” said Selinger.  “This new CancerCare hub expands on the chemotherapy services currently available through our community cancer programs and will be the first of many to provide co-ordinated, world-class cancer care no matter where you live.”

Four more hubs will be strategically developed at existing community cancer program sites over the next year as part of a broader investment of nearly $3 million to transform all 16 existing sites over the next three years, said Selinger.  The co‑ordinated services offered by these hubs will help move the province toward its ultimate goal of accelerating the cancer patient journey to two months or less, he said.  The hubs will also help co-ordinate access to expanded services like cancer screening and early detection services, cancer risk-reduction programs and palliative care. 

“Today’s announcement continues the transformation of the cancer system, so that Manitoba patients benefit from rapid, compassionate cancer care in action,” said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, president and chief executive officer of CancerCare Manitoba.   “The system will be re-engineered to connect state-of‑the-art cancer expertise with primary care to provide rapid treatment and to offer increased support services at community cancer sites, to ease the worry and wait of those facing this disease.”

To support the work of the CancerCare hubs and reduce wait times to two months or less, patient navigators are already in place in the Assiniboine, Brandon, Central, Interlake and Parkland health regions, with plans to hire additional navigators over the next few years.  Once this program is fully established, every new cancer patient in the province will be able to access a navigator who will follow their referrals, testing, diagnosis and treatment to ensure care is provided without delay and to advocate on their behalf whenever necessary to speed up care, said the premier.   Each CancerCare hub will also have a lead clinician, who will be the region’s primary contact for cancer expertise, support and resources.

“Supported by navigators and other resources available through this hub, many of our clients and their families will experience reduced stress throughout their journey from diagnosis to treatment,” said Kathy McPhail, chief executive officer of the Regional Health Authority – Central Manitoba.  “Through collaborative efforts and valued partnerships, we can collectively meet our mandate to achieve the best possible health outcomes for our community.”

There are 16 community cancer programs that currently offer chemotherapy to rural Manitobans.  With over 23,000 patient visits per year, these sites avoid 10 million kilometres of travel to and from Winnipeg for patients and their families, said Selinger.  In total, 10 existing community sites will become full regional CancerCare hubs offering an increased range of cancer care, supports and expertise, and the remaining six smaller community sites will become satellite hubs, offering expanded support services while connecting into other regional hubs as needed.  All hubs and sites will work together with patients and families to offer world-class care and enhanced support during the entire patient journey, the premier added.

“Our comprehensive strategy for improving the cancer patient’s journey will help Manitobans and their families connect with compassionate and responsive care when they need it, as close to home as possible,” said Health Minister Theresa Oswald.  “We are building on the dedication and compassion of hundreds of Manitobans who provide testing, treatment and care to the many others whose lives are affected by cancer.”

Health-care providers will be able to access regional expertise and support from the CancerCare hubs, CancerCare Manitoba and the recently established Manitoba Cancer Partnership steering committee, a group of health-care leaders focused on integrating services to provide timely and seamless access to diagnostics and treatment, said Oswald.  Workshops and other educational opportunities about the cancer-care system will continue to be offered to family physicians to ensure they have the information and tools necessary to provide appropriate, timely care to patients, she said.

Every year, more than 6,000 Manitobans are diagnosed with cancer, while up to 10 times that number are suspected of having cancer and undergo testing before it is ruled out.  Like most other jurisdictions, Manitoba is projecting a 50 per cent increase in cancer cases over the next 20 years. 

Manitoba’s five-year, $40-million, system-wide cancer transformation strategy will streamline and fast‑track the cancer patient journey from when a family doctor’s first suspects a diagnosis of cancer until the time treatment starts including referrals, testing, diagnosis, re‑testing and the development of a treatment plan, said Oswald.  It is estimated this journey now takes three to nine months, she said, adding Manitoba’s goal is to achieve a benchmark of two months or less through a number of initiatives including:

  • introducing cancer patient navigators to advocate on behalf of patients by co-ordinating care;
  • identifying care delays and issues and resolving them to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment;
  • streamlining health services for cancer patients and prioritizing areas for action;
  • guaranteeing an appointment with a specialist within two weeks or less for urgent referrals;
  • developing a rapid diagnostic network for cancer patients to better link and speed up diagnostic imaging and pathology; and
  • establishing the Manitoba Cancer Partnership steering committee, a coalition of health-care leaders tasked by the minister to ensure all parts of the health-care system are working together to deliver seamless access and patient care as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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