The current federal approach to health has left serious gaps in cancer care, prevention and research and requires urgent reform as Canada braces for a dramatic rise in cancer cases, says the Canadian Cancer Society.

Two in five Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, and by 2030 the total number of cancer cases will increase by 40%, according to research released last month by the organization, in partnership with Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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“We’re facing a national challenge that demands a strong national response, but Ottawa has become disconnected from Canadians’ real-world health needs in recent years,” says Pamela Fralick, the Canadian Cancer Society president and CEO. “While federal spending on health has gone up, federal accountability for health solutions has gone down.”

The organization points to three specific areas where the next federal government must take immediate action to repair existing policy gaps and lay the foundation for further progress in the future:

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Tobacco
Per capita federal investments in Canada are half what they are in the United States. For every dollar it collects in tobacco tax revenues, the federal government dedicates just one cent to programs that help stop or prevent tobacco use. Tobacco kills about 37,000 Canadians every year. Canada must adopt plain packaging rules and replace the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy with a comprehensive and properly funded plan.

Research
Federal investments in health research have flat-lined since 2008, and there is no plan in place for future investments to keep up with population growth or rising costs. Health research is a cornerstone of the new knowledge economy, but Canada’s leadership in this area is under threat. Canada must commit to sustainable, long-term investments in health research and reassert the country’s global leadership in the area.

Read: Cancer cases expected to jump 40% by 2030

Palliative care
Most Canadians lack reliable, affordable access to high-quality palliative care, despite the federal government’s fundamental duty to ensure essential medical services are available across the country. Canada must guarantee in federal legislation the right of all Canadians to affordable, high-quality palliative care.

“This is a wake-up call for all party leaders,” she says. “It’s time for a new era of federal health leadership and accountability in Canada.”

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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