July 5th, 2019

NDP slams Ford’s cut to cancer-screening bus as short-sighted

NIAGARA — Jeff Burch, NDP MPP for Niagara Centre, slammed Doug Ford’s decision to pull the plug on a mobile unit that helps residents of Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara access cancer screening as a short-sighted move that could cost people their lives.

The Mobile Cancer Screening Coach is due to be parked in April after Ford ripped away its provincial funding, The Hamilton Spectator reports. The bus provides mammograms, pap tests and colon screening kits, serving the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network at a cost of $634,689 a year.

“This is such a small investment to make when there’s so much at stake: Detecting cancer early can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said Burch. “No one should be forced to face a worse prognosis because they face barriers to accessing health services.

“If this cut is allowed to stand, it will disproportionately hurt women and marginalized groups, including low-income families.”

The Hamilton Spectator’s Code Red project found screening was a factor in the comparatively high rate of cancer deaths in low-income communities.

The cut to provincial funding for the Mobile Screening Coach comes as Ford attacks other services that keep Ontario families healthy and safe. Ford is also slashing the number of public health units across the province and attempted to rip away some of their funding before making a temporary retreat.

“Instead of ending hallway medicine, Doug Ford is making things so much worse with cuts to services that help improve health outcomes,” said Burch. “Cutting the cancer-screening bus today will mean higher costs in the future, as fewer people are screened and diagnosed early and enter the health-care system sicker and with greater needs.

“Residents of Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara deserve so much better than to have their Mobile Cancer Screening Coach taken away. We should be investing in health care services, not cutting early intervention programs that help save lives.”