Ontario New Democrats are not pleased that a bid to have the Ontario government pick up the cost of a prostate cancer screening test has been turned down by the Conservative government.
Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates had a private members bill presented to the Legislature that would have had OHIP pay the cost of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer when referred by a health-care provider. Although earlier readings of the bill won all party support, the bill was rejected earlier this week (March 6) when Conservatives voted against the bill.
“Frankly I’m disappointed, but not surprised — this has consistently been the tone of this government when it comes to public health care,” said Gates.
“Today, we came forward with an easy solution to this health care issue and they said no. They are clearly more interested in supporting private, out-of-pocket health care delivery. Early detection of prostate cancer is an important prevention tool and it's incredibly cruel for this government to not support PSA test coverage.”
This is not the first time the bill has been rejected, said Gates. The bill was tabled for the first time in 2019, and again in 2020 when it received all-party support. At the time, the Ontario Conservatives stalled the Bill’s final approval, said an NDP news release.
In November 2022, Gates re-tabled his private member's bill to extend OHIP coverage of prostate cancer screening under any circumstance.
"We have a crisis in our health care system,” said Gates.
“We need to look for things that can save money, save resources, relieve some of the pressure on health care workers, and ultimately save lives. It’s clear this government doesn’t care about those goals—they care about expanding health care delivery into private hands.”
The NDP release said the most recent yearly statistics in Canada from the Canadian Cancer Society estimate nearly 25,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and that roughly 4,600 men will die from prostate cancer.
The PSA test is currently covered by eight other provinces, and early detection survival rates are nearly 100 percent for five years.
Currently, the cost of a private PSA test in Ontario is $35. The cost of the test under OHIP is around $9.70 and would cost the province $3 million annually, said the release.