The candidates were asked about cancer and the environment at the All Candidates Meeting held on Sept. 28th, 2011. The following is the question presented and below are the candidates responses. (Note: A submission from Rob Milligan, PC, has not been received yet)
Cancer is a huge drain on our health budget. If we think of the causes of cancer as 3 tips in a triangle, we have genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. The government does well promoting lifestyle changes through the health departments. Genetics research is ongoing. If your party formed the next Provincial government, what will it do to regulate the environmental factors (over which an individual has no control) that contribute to cancer, such as banning carcinogenic chemicals in our air, water and soil?
KIRA MEES, Ontario NDP
The Ontario NDP is dedicated to reducing Ontarians’ exposure to toxic substances and has worked closely with the Canadian Cancer Society to further this goal. New Democrats have introduced dozens of amendments to Bills such as the Toxic Reductions Act to strengthen regulation of toxics. Unfortunately, all of these constructive changes were voted down by the McGuinty government. We remain strong advocates for strengthened regulations surrounding cancer- causing substances.
LOU RINALDI, Ontario Liberal Party (MPP)
Through the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy we launched the most aggressive anti-tobacco initiative in North America to fight the province’s number one cause of preventable death. Eight years ago, bars and restaurants were clogged with second hand smoke. Today, families and employees can breathe freely. When we were first elected, parents were smoking in cars with their children. Today, it’s against the law. Since 2003, the province’s smoking rate has declined by more than 21%, the most significant decrease in the country.
Ontario Liberals have also taken aggressive action to reduce carcinogens in our environment. Our Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act 2008 is one of the toughest bans in the world. A recent study from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment found that pesticide levels from toxic chemicals seeping into Ontario’s waterways are already down by about 80 per cent. Shockingly, both the PC and NDP opposition voted against this important
health-promoting legislation. Our new Toxics Reductions Act encourages businesses through education and incentives to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process. We are also introducing 68 tough new air pollution standards to reduce air-borne toxins.
Ontario Liberals believe that the next step in our fight against cancer should be to move even more aggressively into the area of cancer prevention. Cancer Care Ontario reports that an estimated 50% of all
cancer cases in the province could be prevented through improved lifestyle and early detection of pre-cancerous growths. Smoking, diet, sun exposure and alcohol consumption are tied to a large number of cancer cases.
Given the impact of lifestyle and screening on cancer risk we will ensure that Ontarians have access to information that will help them minimize their risk of contracting the disease. Under our plan everyone in the province will have access to a Personalized Cancer Risk Profile online. The profile will use their medical history and family background to measure the risk of cancer. This system will match people to screening programs and other prevention supports available in their communities.
Ontario Liberals will also build on our foundation in tackling tobacco. We’ve already declared war on smoking. Now we’re opening up a new front. When we’re done, Ontario will have the lowest smoking rate in Canada. That’s our goal. We’ll increase the fines on those who illegally sell tobacco to kids to the highest level in the country and ban those who repeatedly flout the law taking away their right to sell tobacco and lottery tickets. We’ll also build on our contraband strategy to choke off the supply of cheap, illegal tobacco sold to our kids by doubling our enforcement efforts.
Ontario Liberals are aware of increasing concern about the linkage between tanning beds and skin cancer. We will work to ensure that younger Ontarians and their families are aware of the risks related to tanning beds.
The Tories threaten Ontario’s progress and promise to take us backwards given their alignment with the interests of big tobacco. As a Junior Health Minister, Tim Hudak oversaw significant cuts to the health budget and neglect of public health. In opposition, Hudak was one of only a handful of MPPs to vote against the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. He has now hired tobacco lobbyists to run his election campaign. His current
platform makes no mention of smoking prevention or cessation. The Ontario Liberal Party can be trusted to continue to fight against big tobacco and improve cancer prevention efforts in the province.
The Green Party of Ontario is committed to protecting the public from carcinogens in our air, water and on the land. Everything from eliminating incinerators to setting higher standards for trucks and automobiles will reduce carcinogens.
Along with a stronger freight policy that gets trucks off the roads and onto trains outside of towns and cities. We will institute a policy on cosmetic ingredients and sewage sludge-spreading on land and BPA which we will develop to make Ontario a safe haven. Enforcement will be an important feature of the provincial environment department.
Conflict of interest such as the Nutrient Management Act which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture would be removed by having the Environment Department administer it instead of the Agricultural department.
We would also establish the WHO level for microcytins which cause liver and brain toxins in all fresh water supplies in the province. This would engender reducing fertilizer runoff from agricultural lands and improving sewage treatment to remove phosphorus in water which cause the algae and toxins to occur.