Our top cancer advocacy issues in 2023

three people embracing outside

Cancer is the leading cause of death for Canadians. 2 in 5 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. The Canadian Cancer Society takes a stand on important cancer issues to build a healthier society and works with governments to influence policies and prioritize the needs of people with cancer and caregivers. It’s time that cancer care worked for everyone. This is why we need elected officials from across Canada to come together and help make things better. Together, we can change the future of cancer forever.

three people embracing outside
A cancer patient being hugged by their caregiver

Access to care

As Canadians continue to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies on our healthcare system, we want to ensure people can access the cancer care they need when they need, from screening to diagnostics to surgeries to medications and other types of treatment. Delays, backlogs and lengthy wait times can seriously impact someone’s cancer care outcome – in fact, a four-week delay in accessing cancer care can potentially increase the risk of death by 10%.

The ask: The government should ensure that new healthcare funding can be allocated towards cancer care services to reduce wait times and backlogs without creating additional administrative or financial burdens. We also urge the government to prioritize its commitment on pharmacare, in collaboration with provinces and territories, to close the gaps in accessing medication in Canada for the cancer community.

Three people in white lab coats working in a lab. One person is smiling at the camera.


The lack of robust cancer data limits policymakers’ ability to identify the extent of the impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as plan for anticipated population needs. Policymakers need access to credible cancer data to support decisions on funding allocations in our healthcare system that will support Canadians who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

The ask: The government should support the mandate and collection of data to address gaps across the cancer control continuum. This will provide measurable evidence to support cancer control planning, address inequities within cancer care and support evaluation and accountability.

Doctor answering a patient’s questions

Healthcare system

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the strain that our healthcare system is facing, especially in health human resources. With cancer prevalence on the rise, we need improved health data, increased investments in health research and innovation across all aspects of the cancer experience to support long-term planning for cancer care across the country.

The ask: The government commit to long-term investments in health research and innovation that keep up with rising costs and population growth. These efforts should also support the development of a robust nationwide health human resources strategy as well as support health care systems efforts to better integrate virtual care.

A doctor and his patient are smiling together while the doctor takes notes

Palliative care

Everyone in Canada should have access to affordable, culturally safe, high-quality palliative care regardless of where they live and in what setting they choose to receive care, from the point of diagnosis of a life-limiting condition. When palliative care interventions are delivered while a person with cancer is still receiving treatment, they lead to a better quality of life, improving comfort and increasing satisfaction for the person receiving care. However, palliative care continues to be a patchwork of uncoordinated services that creates inequitable access for people across the country and prevents people from receiving the dignity in care that they deserve.

The ask: The government invest $7 million over three years in data, national standards and a pan-Canadian Atlas for palliative care to map out the gaps in access across the country. Furthermore, the government invest $8.75 million over three years earmarked for palliative care research, including grief and bereavement.

A mother and daughter sitting with their legs crossed on a yoga matt

Prevention and healthy living

From the Canadian Cancer Society-funded Canadian Population Attributable Risk of Cancer (ComPARe) study, we know that about 4 in 10 cancer cases can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Canadians.

The ask: The government should commit to increasing healthy living investments and implement policies and programs that will have an important population health impact on the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. In particular, we call on the government to restrict the commercial marketing of all food and beverages high in saturated fat, sugars and sodium to children and implement mandatory labels on all alcoholic products sold in Canada.

A young woman breaks a cigarette in half

Tobacco control

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing almost 48,000 Canadians annually, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. There are still 3.8 million Canadians who smoke and a high number of youth who begin smoking each year. Moreover, youth vaping has increased dramatically.

The ask: The government should adopt a final regulation to ban flavours in e-cigarettes, as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island have done, and as Quebec has announced. A draft federal regulation was published in June 2021. We also urge the federal government to require tobacco manufacturers to pay an annual fee to reimburse the costs of implementing the federal tobacco control strategy related to both tobacco and vaping.