Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is my privilege to be here today on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society, the country's largest health charity and the only charity that supports people with all types of cancer.
My remarks today focus on recommendations numbers one and two in our pre-budget submission: a $10 million partnership with the government of Canada to improve the continuum of care, and the strengthening of the federal tobacco control strategy.
Every single hour, 24 Canadians will hear the words "you have cancer” and join the more than 810,000 Canadians already living with this disease. One in two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and by 2035 we expect there to be 35% more new cancer cases than there are this year. We continue to make progress in having more Canadians survive cancer, but as many studies show, including the work from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, cancer patients, survivors, and families still face challenges in getting the health information and practical and emotional support they need. Patients who are well informed are more likely to feel empowered and comply with treatment, improving outcomes and saving health care dollars. This emotional support improves not only mental well-being but also individual productivity.
The Canadian Cancer Society is in a strong position to connect more patients and families with the support and services they need when and where they need them. We are Canada's trusted source for cancer information, and every year our services help millions of people access treatment, care, and support, often while they continue to live at home or in a community setting. Our 80-plus community offices across Canada and 100,000 volunteers give us a powerful local presence, and our connection to cancer treatment and research centres from coast to coast provides a vast network for engaging and informing patients, health professionals, and the public.
CCS can help transform cancer care in Canada by complementing the health care system and improving the transition to community care. We propose a $10-million partnership with the federal government to help us empower Canadians so they can better meet their health care needs. With government support to expand our reach and increase our capacity, we will help Canadians learn more about their diagnoses, locate home and palliative care services, connect with peer-support programs, and navigate the health, social, and financial services available to them. By doing so, we will improve quality of life, reduce emotional stress, and help Canadians be more productive in their lives as they remain engaged with their communities and workplaces. In addition, this will drive efficiency within the health care system.
This partnership will achieve four important goals to meet the needs of cancer patients and caregivers: first, increase reach and accessibility of programs and services; second, offer patient-centred, integrated, and seamless access to a suite of services; third, improve engagement with patients and families throughout the continuum of the cancer journey; and fourth, use strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations to enhance services through innovative collaboration.
Our second recommendation is to strengthen the federal tobacco control strategy, scheduled to expire in March 2018. Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, causing 37,000 deaths annually including 30% of all cancer cases.
In terms of lost productivity, the Conference Board reports that, on average, each smoker costs an employer $3,842 annually. To reach the objective of under 5% tobacco use by 2035, Canada needs a high-impact strategy. Previous budget cuts have undermined impact, with Health Canada's current annual tobacco control budget of $38 million annually representing only 1.2% of the $3.2 billion in annual federal tobacco tax revenue and representing just $1.04 per capita compared with $3.39 in the U.S.
Increased Health Canada investments should at least match the U.S. per capita amount. This amount would allow for enriched incentives for cessation, youth prevention, mass media, indigenous populations, and it would complement pending plain packaging requirements through Bill S-5. The bottom line is that a strengthened tobacco strategy would have a dramatic impact on preventing cancer and saving lives. These two recommendations are practical and affordable steps we can take together. The Canadian Cancer Society is asking for your help and is eager to work with you to achieve these goals.
On behalf of the one in two Canadians who expect a cancer diagnosis and their families and loved ones, we thank you for your time today.