April 30th, 2018

NDP’s Horwath announces universal access to take-home cancer drugs

TORONTO – On Monday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath met with local cancer survivors to discuss her party’s plan to guarantee universal, free access to take-home cancer drugs.

“Cancer is the leading cause of death in Ontario, and our current system forces patients to jump through hoops to access the latest, most appropriate treatments. And for all too many patients, it means unnecessary hospital visits, and long, stressful waits,” said Horwath.

“It’s time to guarantee universal access to take-home cancer medications, making sure that patients have access to the treatments they need at no out-of-pocket cost.”

The majority of new cancer treatments being released are treatments patients can take at home, but Ontario’s current drug programs offer only limited access to these newer medications. While drugs given to a patient at the hospital are always free, drugs they can take home are not always free — or affordable.

“A number of other provinces have already made take-home cancer treatments widely available – it’s wrong for patients in Ontario to have anything less,” said Horwath. “This program will reduce stress and costs for cancer patients, while freeing up more hospital resources for other patients.”

Other NDP health care commitments include:

  • Hospital funding that keeps up with inflation and community needs, including $1.2 billion in immediate investments
  • A moratorium on any further layoffs of frontline care workers
  • A wide-ranging, properly resourced public inquiry into problems plaguing the long-term care system
  • Creating 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years — rising to 40,000 new beds by 2028.

Launching Canada’s first truly universal pharmacare program, which will provide prescription drug coverage for all Ontarians, and providing dental care for everyone

“The Liberals have spent the last 15 years freezing and cutting hospital budgets. Kathleen Wynne should have made take-home cancer drugs available and free, but she chose not to,” said Horwath.

“And Doug Ford has vowed to make cuts across the board, slashing health care rather than fixing, building and improving the care Ontarians need. That kind of change would be devastating to cancer patients and their families, who need more support — not less.

“I’m committed to doing everything a government can to relieve the worry patients and families feel after a cancer diagnosis. We can give everyone facing a battle with cancer the best fighting chance by making the treatment their doctor prescribes available, and free, no matter when and where they need it. That’s change for the better, for all Ontarians.”


Improving Cancer Care

Our Plan

  • We will publicly fund take-home cancer medication, so every Ontarian can take the cancer medication they are prescribed
  • This means universal access to take-home cancer drugs
  • Ontario will join BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in providing coverage for take-home cancer drugs
  • All Ontarians prescribed take-home cancer medications without existing private coverage will receive take-home cancer medications with no co-pay or deductible
  • People with existing private coverage will keep it
  • It will cost $42.5 million annually to ensure no Ontarian pays out of pocket for take-home cancer drugs

What this means for people

  • No cancer patient will have to pay out of pocket for cancer medication
  • The cost of take-home cancer drugs can be as high as $126,000 per year for patients using standard doses. This will mean every Ontarians has access to take-home cancer drugs
  • Almost 50 per cent of cancer patients are prescribed take-home cancer drugs. This is expected to increase because 60 per cent of all new cancer drug treatments are oral drugs
  • Patients will no longer experience the stress of long delays while they wait for the approval of their Trillium application. People will be able to start treatment sooner, with less worry


  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in Ontario, with an estimated 86,000 new diagnoses each year
  • It is estimated that one half of Ontarians will develop cancer in their lifetime, and one in four Ontarians will die of it
  • Cancer drugs taken in a hospital via IV are currently covered, however there are major gaps in coverage for take-home cancer drugs
  • The majority of new cancer drugs are take-home formulations, not IV
  • Public coverage for take-home cancer drugs is currently provided for seniors aged 65 and older, long-term care residents, home care clients, social assistance recipients, and children and youth under age 25
  • Other Ontarians can also access Trillium, which provides coverage after people pay four per cent of their annual income as a quarterly deductible
  • Take-home cancer drugs include: o Drugs taken orally o Drugs taken topically (on the skin) o Drugs taken through intramuscular (into a muscle) or subcutaneous (under the skin) injections at home

What the experts are saying

Cancertainty Tweet: The needs of cancer patients in Ontario have been heard! CanCertainty applauds @OntarioNDP for its commitment to cancer patients in its platform. http://bit.ly/CC_NDP0416 #onpoli https://twitter.com/CanCertainty/status/985951940315156481