July 5, 2019 4:57 pm

Hamilton’s cancer screening bus is soon to be no more after provincial cut

The province confirmed that Cancer Care Ontario’s screening bus will soon lose funding.

Don Mitchell / Global News
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A mobile screening coach, which screens for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers in Hamilton, Burlington, and Niagara, will soon be no more.

The province confirmed to Global News that funding for Cancer Care Ontario’s screening bus will be re-directed as part of its goal of finding more “efficiencies” with health initiatives.

In a statement, Ministry of Health spokesperson David Jensen said the program received $634,689 annually from Cancer Care Ontario.

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The coach, which operates in the North West region and Hamilton area, offers pap tests, digital mammography, and screenings for colorectal cancer screening through a fecal immunochemical test.

LISTEN: Bill Kelly talks with the President of CUPE local 7800 at Hamilton Health Sciences, Dave Murphy, about the phasing out of Cancer Care Ontario’s screening bus

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The service, which covered the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network, offered tests for those with limited mobility to travel to a nearby location via appointment through Cancer Care Ontario’s website.

With the funding cut, the bus is expected to go out of service in April of 2020.

The news is not being welcomed by the president of CUPE local 7800 at Hamilton Health Sciences, Dave Murphy, who told Global News that the move is “really just a cost-cutting measure” and “not an efficiency.”

“It’s a service, that to me, is invaluable to the community,” said Murphy. “Everybody should be very upset that the government is attacking them and going after services like this. This is uncalled for.”

READ MORE: 34 local health jobs in the Hamilton-Niagara region to be eliminated: province

Murphy says he’s upset that the Doug Ford government has decided to eliminate a service that prevents cancer arguing that without it, a person may contract cancer and treatment for that is expensive.

“You know they talk about the savings, but, how much is the treatment for women that happen to have breast cancer?” Murphy said, “It’s very expensive and costly.”

Meanwhile, Ministry spokesperson David Jensen says the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant region is well-resourced with 22 active Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) sites.

READ MORE: Health care advisory council report gives Ford government-wide berth to move forward with agenda

“Eligible individuals can also visit their primary care provider for cervical screening tests and FIT kits for colorectal cancer screening,” said Jensen, “The cost to perform mammograms through the Hamilton Coach was significantly more expensive than other mobile coaches — at a rate of approximately 3 times the amount.”

Jensen also said “alternate sources of funding” will be available during the phasing out of the bus.

But Murphy contests the notion that the province’s “well-resourced” sites are situated around the different communities. He says there are few doctors that make calls to these regions.

“We’re talking about people that possibly don’t have that ability to get out or have a family doctor,” said Murphy. “A lot of people in Hamilton don’t have family doctors because it’s the number one city that has doctor shortages.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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