Although in Opposition, Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones was beaming at Budget 2012 Tuesday.
Jones, a breast cancer survivor, was happy the Tory government is expanding the breast cancer screening program in existing sites to include women aged 40-49 referred by their primary health care provider to the program. An investment of $508,600 will support the expansion, including a new mammography unit for James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander.
Although she’d already successfully undergone treatment, Jones stepped down as Liberal leader due to health reasons in August, two months before the election.
She has been lobbying for the screening program to be expanded.
“I have worked really hard on this. I was part of a national campaign where we were lobbying provinces all across Canada to reduce the benchmarks for breast cancer screening for women,” she said.
“And I’m happy to see that finally Newfoundland and Labrador has come onboard. I can’t tell you how many petitions I have presented in the House of Assembly, but certainly there were thousands of names of women from all over Newfoundland and Labrador.”
She said every day she heard from women younger than 50 who were diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We have one of the highest mortality rates in Canada of women with breast cancer,” she said.
“I hope this early screening will bring that mortality rate down and it will save the lives of women in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Jones said previously women younger than 50 could get referred, but it was hard for those who didn’t have a family history and were seen as self diagnosing.
When she sought a referral, she was not a candidate because of her age and lack of family history. When she pushed and finally got a referral, she had to wait six months for the appointment.
“I will be monitoring the system to make sure it’s working in the best interest of women in that age group,” she said.
“If it isn’t, I will be advocating for improved service.”