TORONTO — The Ontario government would pay for a prostate cancer test for men over the age of 50 if the Liberals are re-elected on Oct. 10, Health Minister George Smitherman pledged Saturday.
Prostate specific antigen tests, which Mr. Smitherman said are currently paid for by the province only when a doctor determines they are needed, would be covered under OHIP for all men aged 50 years or older.
“Most people would not have the resource of an OHIP-funded PSA test for preventative purposes,” he said in an interview.
“So, this is a very dramatic expansion of the OHIP coverage for the PSA test.”
The annual cost of extending the PSA test to all Ontario men over 50 is estimated to be $30-million, which Mr. Smitherman said would come from general government revenues. The province's health tax would help pay for the tests, he added.
He estimated the cost of the PSA test now stands at about $45.
Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men, but it is also one of the most treatable cancers, Mr. Smitherman said. He added the Liberals decided on the 50-year-old cut off because physicians recommend men discuss PSA testing with their family doctors when they reach that age.
Mr. Smitherman says the province would work with groups such as Cancer Care Ontario, the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society to develop and implement the PSA test program.
In a release, Mr. Smitherman accused the previous Progressive Conservative government of slashing hospital funding by $170 million during their first two years in office.