Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-314, An Act respecting the awareness of screening among women with dense breast tissue, introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Barrie.
The bill encourages the federal government to use existing initiatives to increase women's awareness of how dense breast tissue impacts breast cancer screening. We know that breast cancer is far too common in Canada. This year, some 23,000 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, a one in nine chance over a lifetime, and breast cancer will claim the lives of 5,100 women this year alone.
We know that breast cancer screening saves lives. We also know that women with denser breast tissue face added challenges with cancer detection through mammography. Targeting dense tissue, as the hon. member for Barrie attests, is one tangible way we can make a difference. We can play an effective role in the adoption of effective, efficient early detection practices in screening. That is why we are raising awareness and providing accurate information about screening. This helps women make better decisions, particularly if they have dense breast tissue.
Bill C-314 focuses on the efforts already under way to raise women's awareness about dense breast tissue and breast cancer screening. It also would help women and their doctors make well-informed decisions regarding their screening.
There are a number of elements in the bill that I will outline, along with current federal initiatives that support this bill. First, the bill requires our government to determine if there are breast density information gaps in relation to breast cancer screening. By knowing where these gaps are, we can plug the holes through research. In response to the first element, our government will continue supporting cancer research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR. A priority of CIHR's Institute of Cancer Research is early cancer detection. It is currently exploring partnership opportunities with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for early detection funding. This research will address breast cancer information gaps.
Second, the bill would require that approaches be identified as needed to improve information for women. This would be done to address the challenges of detecting cancer in women with denser tissue and to raise awareness concerning these challenges. Bill C-314 also recognizes the responsibility provinces and territories have for delivering these invaluable programs. For example, when mammography identifies dense breast tissue, these programs notify women to obtain further testing. In Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories an annual recall system is in place for women identified with dense breast tissue. In other jurisdictions, follow-up is determined by the radiologist.
While breast screening programs are primarily a provincial and territorial responsibility, the federal government, through existing initiatives and partnerships, supports raising awareness of breast cancer screening and breast density. In response to this bill, the government will d continue to support provinces and territories in raising awareness of breast density and its screening implications through the Canadian breast cancer screening initiative. This initiative is a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial and territorial programs. Through it, we are working with provincial and territorial governments to measure screening program performance nationwide. This means that all jurisdictions regularly share screening program information: lessons learned, best practices, share challenges and mutual questions of importance.
Part of the Canadian breast cancer screening initiative includes the Canadian breast cancer screening database, a national repository on breast cancer screening. Provinces and territories contribute to that database, which is then used to monitor and evaluate screening programs across Canada.
Bill C-314 would require the existing Canadian breast cancer screening initiative to share information on dense tissue in relation to cancer screening and any follow-up procedures. The initiative makes a tool available to assist in decision making pertaining to breast cancer screening. In the future, the tool will include breast density information. Sharing information about ways to improve these programs ensures women receive the full benefits of early detection.
I am pleased to note that our government will also begin discussions through the federal-provincial-territorial national committee for the Canadian breast cancer screening initiative regarding identification protocols for dense breast tissue. Through the committee, participating provincial and territorial screening programs are encouraged to share best practices on raising awareness of dense breast tissue.
The committee also provides opportunities for provincial and territorial governments to collaborate on screening recommendations and approaches. The Canadian breast cancer screening initiative will also continue providing information on breast cancer screening through its biennial report. This information will help to enhance organized screening across Canada.
Moreover, our government continues to take action through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, which leads the implementation of the Canadian strategy for cancer control. This made-in-Canada approach, consistent with the bill, has a key role in accelerating effective cancer prevention and control strategies. It also works with and engages the cancer community to provide Canadians with information on screening.
Of interest, the partnership hosts a web based resource called, “Cancer View Canada”. This portal provides information to Canadians on cancer issues, including screening, and it draws on the expertise of partners.
Renewed investments in the partnership, which was announced last March by our Prime Minister, allows the partnership to continue its important work. As members will see, there is much work already started that supports Bill C-314.
The bill also recognizes the important role of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Women's Health Network in providing reliable information to support women's decision making.
The federal government works collaboratively with various stakeholders and will continue raising awareness through these existing initiatives. Canadians do not have to wait to learn about these issues from their doctors. We have a responsibility to provide this current evidence in the most efficient and effective way possible, especially when the lives of Canadians may be at stake.
Through further awareness, Canadian women and their families can become more informed and they will make better decisions. They will also learn about breast density and its implications for screening.
I encourage all my fellow parliamentarians to support this very important bill. It would increase awareness for women regarding dense breast tissue. It is important knowledge to have, not only for them but in the interest of their loved ones. It could even save a life.
I thank the hon. member for Barrie for his concern about this issue and his willingness to ensure we are better educated about our health.