Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-314 regarding dense breast tissue and the importance of breast cancer screening.
Bill C-314 calls on the federal government to use existing programs and initiatives to increase awareness about dense breast tissue and its impact on breast cancer screening. The bill's focus is on working with partnerships to improve information and share information on screening with women and their doctors. Several current government actions are highlighted. They are supported by other partner organizations focused on cancer, breast cancer and breast cancer screening. I will explain more about these actions in my remarks today, but I would like to begin with a few words about how critical the underlying issue is.
Every year, millions of Canadians are affected by cancer either personally or by the experience of a family member, friend or neighbour. I have personally been affected by this disease with the loss of my mother in 1989. Because of this and my role as a surgeon, I know about the importance of breast cancer screening and awareness. Breast health, regular checkups and exams should be a conversation in every home in Canada. It is one that occurred in my family home. As one can imagine, it is not an easy conversation for a single father who has recently lost his wife to have with his young children. However, it is extremely important that parents have this conversation with all of their daughters.
Awareness starts at home, as well as in a doctor's office. Young women across the country should be in constant dialogue with family physicians when it comes to their breast health and determining what practices for screening are best for them. Breast cancer in particular is a major health concern. One in nine women in Canada develops breast cancer during her lifetime, making it one of the most common cancers affecting Canadian women.
In 2011, it is estimated that 23,400 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer, an increase from 2010. That represents about 450 women being diagnosed each week. Early detection of breast cancer through organized screening programs is an important public health practice. Our government has invested in partnerships that promote optimal screening. Our government works across different health sectors with partner organizations, as well as with provinces and territories that deliver health care services.
Together we want to improve screening and early detection and to provide information to women. That is exactly what Bill C-314 calls for: an assurance that we are doing all we can to increase awareness and to assist health care providers and women in making well-informed screening decisions.
This bill recognizes that we are taking action on this issue through a number of initiatives. We are reinforcing existing investments, commitments and action on prevention, detection and control. The bill also recognizes the important work done by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. This initiative was established and funded by our government. The bill highlights the work our government does through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian breast cancer screening initiative. The knowledge generated through these initiatives is then shared with doctors and networks that include health organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society.
The central initiative supported by our government to fight cancer is the Canadian strategy for cancer control. This is a co-ordinated comprehensive strategy developed with government, non-governmental cancer organizations, cancer survivors, researchers and health care professionals. Screening and early detection is the main priority of the strategy. Breast density and its implications for screening is a part of this.
The Canadian strategy for cancer control is implemented by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The partnership is an independent not-for-profit organization that is working on prevention, early detection, treatment and the support for Canadians living with cancer. This organization has done much to ensure cancer patients and health care professionals across Canada have state-of-the-art knowledge about what works to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
Notably, the partnership has encouraged hard-to-reach populations to undergo screening, helping doctors to identify cancer earlier. Funding of $250 million to the partnership was recently renewed for five more years, from 2012 to 2017. This funding will help the partnership continue its invaluable work on reducing cancer cases, enhancing the quality of life of cancer patients and increasing the likelihood of survival.
Through CIHR, the government is funding research on more effective diagnostics, treatment and prevention for all cancers, including breast cancer. Research investments in this area support important Canadian scientific work. I want to stress that the search for a cure is only part of the incredible research being undertaken in this country. Research is helping to reduce the burden of cancer on individuals and families through informing the development of prevention strategies.
As well, scientific research is helping to improve screening in health care settings. It is contributing to early diagnosis and, in many cases, allows access to better quality cancer care. This year alone $22.7 million was spent on breast cancer research.
Bill C-314 highlights the importance of providing women and their doctors with the most recent information. Our government's Canadian breast cancer initiative contributes by making education and information resources available to communities across Canada. This work facilitates action on breast cancer, women's health, inter-sectoral collaborations, and stakeholder involvement.
The government supports the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's screening initiative, a key component of the Canadian breast cancer initiative. The screening initiative is a joint provincial-territorial collaboration to develop screening approaches. It contributes to improving breast cancer screening programs by developing nationally agreed upon quality indicators.
For women with higher breast density, breast cancer is generally harder to detect using mammograms, resulting in more frequent screenings. The Canadian breast cancer screening initiative supports national standards for prevention, early detection and screening. It seeks to develop and share best practices in breast cancer and women's health. Our government recognizes the importance of participating in cancer screening. Raising awareness around breast density supports this goal.
Through the screening initiative, we are working with the provinces and territories as well as local and non-governmental organizations to increase early detection and screening for populations less likely to be screened, such as newcomers to Canada, rural Canadians and persons with disabilities. This cross-Canada project enables the sharing of best practices, and ensures that information and support programs are available to women with breast cancer.
Through the Canadian breast cancer screening initiative and the Canadian partnership against cancer, our government helps the provinces and territories benchmark performance against national standards. It is equally important to share knowledge through health organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society. The bill reinforces the current actions on breast cancer screening that reflects the government's commitment to keep Canadians and their families healthy, to help doctors detect cancer, and to give women better information on which basis to make their decisions.
I want to commend the hon. member for Barrie for his initiative which will not only better the information women receive regarding their breast health but will also lead to earlier detection and to more women's lives being saved.
I came face to face with the ramifications of breast cancer when I lost my mother 22 years ago. Compounded by my role as a physician, it is why I am so passionate on this issue. I strongly urge every member of the House to support this bill on the awareness of breast cancer screening, so that we can stand unanimous in this chamber in support of women's breast health.
I once again commend the member for Barrie for his excellent work on this bill.