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Policy & Advocacy

Together we’ll huff and we’ll puff…

Lung disease places a profound burden on patients and their families. It also places a large—and growing—economic burden on every provincial healthcare system across Canada. Bold new approaches are urgently needed, and the Lung Health Foundation is leading the way by driving policy change. Lung health starts now!


Our Breathing Policy Forum series empowers the Lung Health Foundation to tackle some of the most urgent and pressing issues facing healthcare today. We set change in motion by bringing together thought leaders from the public and private sectors to develop creative and actionable solutions that will improve the healthcare system in Ontario, and across Canada. 

POLICY FORUM- Lung Cancer Screening – Global Insights and Calls to Action

This month lung cancer advocates and opinion leaders explored key learnings, best practices, shared challenges & opportunities associated with lung cancer screening programs. This event is moderated by Christian Finley, M.D., FRCS(C), MPH, a national leader in lung cancer management and benchmarking. Christian Finley is joined by Joelle T. Fathi, DNP, RN, ARNP, CTTS, FAAN, an adult acute care nurse practitioner and, along with Jesme Fox, MBChB, MBA, the Medical Director at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

Topic: Tackling Inequities in Lung Cancer Outcomes

Systemic issues have undeniably resulted in health disparities for certain communities living with lung cancer. While we know that rural, racialized, low-income, and other marginalized groups suffer poorer lung cancer outcomes, there exists a gap in the policy solutions being designed and advanced to work towards diminishing these inequities.

Topic: Building a National Companion Diagnostics Testing Framework

While targeted therapies offer Canadian lung cancer patients hope of extended survival and improved quality of life compared to traditional cancer treatments, the testing needed to match lung cancer patients with therapies is not equitably accessible across Canada.

Topic: Lessons from COVID-19 Vaccine Development & Rollout

Though Canada fell short in manufacturing capabilities for COVID-19 vaccines, it outshined many other countries in vaccine rollout. Ensuring early investments in biotechnology, coordination between health authorities, and proactive sharing of global resources will be key to advancing future vaccine development and delivery. 

What lessons can Canada learn from the COVID-19 vaccine development and rollout processes and how can the government strengthen its health infrastructure to maximize readiness for future infectious respiratory disease outbreaks?

Topic: The Canadian/Global COVID-19 Policy Response

With unique challenges posed by COVID-19, countries around the world cobbled together emergency responses to manage the pandemic. Governments struggled with striking the appropriate balance between mitigating economic costs while protecting public health

How did existing socio-political contexts exacerbate the effects of COVID-19 on marginalized communities? How could government responses have been improved to mitigate the harmful impact?

Topic: COVID-19 Testing and Tracing

Canada was relatively slow in the beginning to test for COVID-19 and ramping up testing across the country, due in part to a lack of robust laboratory information systems and domestic testing equipment.

What approaches did Canada take to administer testing and track progress and in what areas did they succeed or fall flat?


2021 Queen’s Park Advocacy Day

On December 1, 2021, Lung Health Foundation hosted our annual Queen’s Park Patient Advocacy Day to hear directly from patient advocates and experts on the major challenges facing lung health.

COVID-19 & Asthma Care

Asthma patients may feel increased anxieties and concerns during the pandemic. In addition, with the disruption of testing and other medical appointments, asthma patients may not be on proper asthma management routines. 
What areas of care have been disrupted for asthma patients, and how should governments and healthcare providers ensure proper management of asthma moving forward?

COVID-19 & Lung Cancer Care 

To make room in hospitals for COVID-19 patients and protect cancer patients from contracting COVID-19, government policy has been put in place that has disrupted the various aspects of cancer care. 
How has lung cancer diagnosis, surgery, treatment, follow-up and clinical trials been affected during the pandemic and what will be the adverse impact to lung cancer patients?

COVID-19 & Long Term Care 

Long-term care homes in Canada have been the epicenter of COVID-19 and residents of these homes make up the majority of COVID-19 deaths. Challenges around facility design, symptoms presentation, and testing protocols must be addressed to protect seniors now and prevent future outbreaks in the future.

How do infectious disease outbreaks happen in long-term care homes, and what policy changes should be implemented to protect our seniors and prevent future outbreaks?&

Immunization in the Age of COVID-19

Researchers across the globe are racing to discover a vaccine for COVID-19, but they face a variety of challenges. At the same time, the pandemic could have a number of implications for this year’s flu season and there is a need to ensure that there is uptake of influenza and pneumonia vaccines.

Is the Canadian regulatory environment conducive to vaccine innovation and what barriers to developing and accessing a COVID-19 vaccine exist?

Patient Group Engagement in Public Policy

The convergence of experience, influence and opportunity

While patients and patient groups have unique perspectives to offer based on their lived experience with diseases, significant gaps exist in how and when patient groups are engaged in the drug approval process and the weight their voice carries. In addition, with the federal government proposing national pharmacare, the opinions and values of patients should be entrenched in whichever strategy is pursued.

How can we improve the dialogue and consultation process between patient groups and regulators within the drug approval process? How can the patient perspective be ingrained in a national pharmacare framework?

Immunization Innovation

Seasonal influenza vaccination is the best thing that a Canadian can do to protect themselves from the flu and its potentially deadly complications. But vaccination rates aren’t budging, and a “perfect” longer term flu vaccine is years away – IF our system can foster the innovation needed to get us there.

Can more be done to drive vaccine uptake UP and drive the incidence of influenza DOWN by supporting immunization innovation?

A policy forum attendee listens to the speakers

Generic Interchangeability

A number of new branded inhaled drugs will become available in the coming years. At the same time, the market will be welcoming a new wave of generic inhalers of medicines with expired patents. Currently, there is no standard definition for “sameness” of an inhaler device.

How do we best navigate the issue of generic inhalers coming into Canada to ensure that patient outcomes are not negatively impacted?

A policy forum speaker addressing the crowd

Access to Precision Medicine

The Right Treatment for the Right Patient at the Right Time

Lung cancer care options are rapidly evolving. But despite numerous scientific advancements and innovations, many patients are waiting too long for access to the precision medicine they desperately need. Some will even die waiting due to a drug approval process that is fragmented and inconsistent.

What if we improved the accessibility and affordability of oral cancer drugs, while reducing the barriers to timely biomarker testing?

The Importance of Immunization to the Health of Seniors

Prevention: The Best Medicine

The flu shot eliminates the need for more than 30,000 visits to Ontario hospital emergency departments. It also prevents approximately 300 deaths each year. Meanwhile, pneumonia is one of the leading causes of illness in Canadian seniors and, in 2018, for the first time in five years, it became a leading cause of emergency department visits in Canada.

What types of policies are needed to increase vaccination rates?


Demystifying the Smoke and Mirrors

Cannabis is an emerging issue that the Lung Health Foundation is working to get ahead of given its legalization on October 17, 2018. It is a complex and multi-faceted issue that affects the numerous stakeholders who hold varying perspectives around the distribution, sale and use of cannabis. We need to ensure Ontarians are educated about this issue in order to make informed choices.

How can we make sure we’re properly navigating the evolving landscape of cannabis use in Ontario, and across Canada?

Policy forum attendees listen intently

Drug Reimbursement

Managing Costs without Compromising Health and Access

If a drug price is set too high, the number of people with access to it will be limited. But if a price is set to low, innovative drug companies will seek jurisdictions with more favourable conditions to test drugs that have the potential to be lifesaving.

How can we find a balance?

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The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in the Healthcare System

Collaboration for change

Without question, healthcare costs are spiralling upwards. This is due, in large part, to the rising incidence and economic burden of chronic diseases like COPD.
Can public-private partnerships (PPPs) close the gap created by increasing healthcare costs and decreasing budgets?

Our Success

Through our advocacy efforts we have had some tremendous success in protecting your lung health:

  • Ryan’s Law was passed into law in 2015. It allows a student to carry his/her own asthma medication with his/her parent’s or guardian’s permission.
  • Ending coal fired generation in Ontario. In 2014 we stood proudly with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Hon. Glenn Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, to announce a ban on coal-fired electricity generation in the province – a first in North America and a significant step in ensuring we have clean air to breathe.
  • Banning smoking in vehicles when a child under the age of 16 is present through legislation introduced in 2008 by the Ontario government. The bill, which is an amendment to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, prohibited smoking in vehicles with a proposed fine of $250. We were a leader behind the bill’s adoption and we applaud the efforts to ensure the safety and health of Ontario’s youth from the harmful effects of tobacco.