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Ontario’s population is diverse and geographically dispersed. Patient access to care and their health outcomes should not depend on demographics or where they live. Yet some Ontarians face significant barriers to cancer services due to geography, race, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, immigration status and education.

We’re working to better understand these barriers, and to help all Ontarians get the cancer care services they need. We are pursuing this goal with the awareness that First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) groups and other groups may face unique challenges that require targeted solutions.


Image of Gail S.

“I had to drive an hour and a half each way for my radiation treatment. As stressful as that was, I realize I was incredibly lucky. I think about all the people who have to drive three, four or five hours to get to a treatment centre. What about people who don’t have cars, or can’t afford the gas and parking, or don’t have jobs that give them paid sick leave? We have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, but not everyone has equal access to it.”

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Ensure health equity for all Ontarians across the cancer system

Strategic Objectives

  • Develop and implement the third Aboriginal (FNIM) Cancer Strategy, building on successes of previous FNIM cancer strategies as well as the established relationship protocol agreements between CCO and FNIM communities.
  • Assess, expand, enhance and utilize data to better understand and improve equity issues in the regions.
  • Develop locally relevant policies and programs in partnership with community service providers to improve access to services for specific populations and support healthcare providers with training, data and tools to deliver equitable services.
  • Advise governments in the development of provincial policies and programs to improve access to services for specific populations, including equitable access to specialized services.

By 2019

  • The relationships among FNIM, Cancer Care Ontario and Regional Cancer Programs will be firmly established and formalized through protocols. This will ensure and sustain ongoing dialogue and implementation of the Aboriginal (FNIM) Cancer Strategy through customized regional Aboriginal cancer plans, an achievement that will allow for increased service awareness and equitable access that honours the Aboriginal path of well-being.
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis identifiers will be incorporated into data sets that will be used to detect and quantify equity gaps.
  • Data to identify equity gaps will be available beyond FNIM populations, including “cancer risk profiles” for communities.
  • Cancer Care Ontario will provide the information and tools that will support the Regional Cancer Programs in reducing disparities that exist in prevention, care and outcomes.
  • Equity assessments will be applied to program design to ensure that access and utilization of services by FNIM and other underserved, high-risk communities are improved.

Examples of Initiatives

  • Implement a health equity impact assessment tool in program design and planning.
  • Expand efforts to address inequities in screening behaviours and modifiable risk factors or exposures for cancer and other chronic diseases.
  • Design and implement provincial models for the delivery of specialized services such as focal tumour ablation, neuroendocrine tumours and sarcoma.
  • Expand the reach of provider level cancer screening reporting to providers serving FNIM populations (Screening Activity Reports for Aboriginal Health Access Centres).