Between 1999 and 2002, over 700 cancer experts and cancer survivors met to begin development of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control (CSCC), a coordinated plan to “prevent cancer, cure cancer, and increase survival and quality of life for those who develop cancer, by converting the knowledge gained through research, surveillance and outcome evaluation into strategies and actions.”
The CSCC was a policy framework that spanned prevention, surveillance, guidelines, human resources planning and rebalancing the focus from tumour-centered treatment to patient-centered supportive and psychosocial care. It had been formulated by 2002, but was largely invisible to the general public and even within the professional cancer care community, and the federal government had not committed sustained funding. A collaborative of over 40 Canadian cancer organizations came together in December 2003 to mobilize public and political support for implementation of the CSCC. The challenge was to engage stakeholders, advocacy groups, cancer survivors, cancer leaders and professionals to move the agenda forward, not only to create awareness of the need for a national strategy, but to formulate a loud, strong collective voice that politicians and the public would hear and that would enable them to act. Called the National Cancer Leadership Forum (NCLF), the group’s leadership team devised a strategic action plan focusing on several key activity areas: government relations, stakeholder relations and public relations/communications. The first goal was to create a sense of urgency with a practical and realistic approach, offering solutions and collaborative problem solving. The NCLF created the Campaign to Control Cancer and a new social marketing plan to launch a series of newspaper ads with the support of the member organizations.
Between February 2005 and November 2006, The Campaign to Control Cancer organized leadership-training workshops across Canada, to build confidence and capacity within the cancer community to meet with elected officals and media. At the same time, The Campaign to Control Cancer ran a series of full-page ads in Canada’s national newspapers, calling for a national strategy to control cancer. In the House of Commons, MPs held the 1st ever debate on cancer, and passed a motion supporting the CSCC. Following his successful election victory in 2006, Prime Minister Steven Harper announced $260 Million in funding for the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. In November 2006, Prime Minister Harper announced the establishment of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer – a national, arms-length agency to oversee and monitor progress on the implementation of Canada’s national cancer plan. Many of the founders from The Campaign to Control Cancer and the National Cancer Leadership Forum went on to leadership roles in the new, federal-provincial CPAC.
In 2011, the federal government renewed funding for the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer for another 5-year period.