Windsor West Liberal MPP Teresa Piruzza says Windsor will not lose its funding for all cancer surgery services, even if its hospitals defiantly continue to perform thoracic surgery.

Cancer Care Ontario has threatened to suspend all cancer surgery funding in Windsor if the two local hospitals refuse to stop performing the surgery and send the patients to London instead.

Piruzza recently met with Health Minister Deb Matthews and the president of Cancer Care Ontario to make her case to keep thoracic surgery in Windsor.

Even though Cancer Care Ontario threatened to cut all funding to Windsor hospitals on Dec. 1, Piruzza assured that wouldn’t happen.

“I was assured Windsor is not losing its funding for cancer services, which is was one of the early concerns I was hearing,” Piruzza said.

But a letter Cancer Care Ontario sent to Hôtel-Dieu Grace CEO Ken Deane in September threatened just that.

“If an acceptable plan is not received by [Cancer Care Ontario] by Dec. 1, 2013, all cancer surgery funding that had been provisionally allocated to [Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital] for 2013/14 will be reallocated to other hospitals in Ontario,” the letter said.

The letter made the same threat against Windsor Regional Hospital.

“Nothing’s more important than the well-being of my constituents and our community, a community I’m part of. It makes sense for those surgeries to stay here. I’m hopeful that, in some way, we’ll keep those surgeries," Piruzza said. "We have quality surgeons and care here. It’s inconvenient for families to travel to London, not only inconvenient, but it adds to the stress and anxiety to families at an already stressful time."

Cancer Care Ontario claims Windsor doesn't meet thoracic cancer surgery standards. London, it says, provides Level 1 thoracic cancer care, whereas Windsor does not.

“Yes, the standards that Cancer Care Ontario has set — that they set for all types of cancer — has improved the quality across the province when it comes to cancer care across Ontario. But with this particular care, we have shown over the last number of years, we have the quality and that the care is there,” Piruzza said.

The MPP said Windsor should be granted an exemption in the case of thoracic surgery.

“We have a satellite medical school in Windsor, and the students here do their rounds at our hospitals, as well. We’ll be losing that opportunity,” Piruzza said. “My job is to bring forward those particular issues.”