'We need to be open': CancerCare Manitoba CEO looks to upcoming review for ideas on how to improve care

The head of CancerCare Manitoba says she's not nervous about an upcoming government review of the provincial cancer clinic and whether it will lead to funding cuts.

Opposition leader says misguided RFP sets stage for funding cuts

President and CEO Dr. Sri Navaratnam said she believes a review could help improve how CancerCare Manitoba delivers patient care. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The head of CancerCare Manitoba says she's not nervous about an upcoming government review of the provincial cancer clinic and whether it will lead to funding cuts.

President and CEO Dr. Sri Navaratnam said if anything, she believes a review could help improve how the clinic is already operating.  

"We need to be open to see 'Can we do something differently?'" said Navaratnam. "So that five years from now, 10 years from now, we could still sustain this cancer services at the highest level possible."

News of a government audit of the clinic has made headlines in recent days. 

A request for proposals from an outside firm said the audit will examine the "overall operational efficiency and fiscal performance" by comparing CancerCare with similar organizations nationwide.

Opposition leader Wab Kinew said Monday that the misguided request for proposals sets the stage for funding cuts. He also said that the government shouldn't waste money hiring another consultant after CancerCare Manitoba was already included in a KPMG report.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen defended the audit saying it's important for the government to ask questions about how it's doing.

A 2019 audit

Navaratnam said she has been in contact with the provincial government about an audit since before summer and that an efficiency review was not specifically done for CancerCare Manitoba as part of the KPMG review. 

She said Cancercare Manitoba will also be involved in picking who conducts this audit, which she said will occur in 2019.

"As the CEO of CancerCare Manitoba, I like it this way," she said. "Cancer is a very complex system so we could really focus and do it properly. That will benefit patients." 

It's always a challenge how we're going to sustain the service for Manitobans.- Dr. Sri Navaratnam, CancerCare Manitoba president and CEO

According to CancerCare Manitoba, 6,500 new patients were diagnosed with cancer in 2016-2017. 

Navaratnam said there have been ongoing discussions with the government on how CancerCare Manitoba can continue to provide services, as the needs of patients continue to grow. She said more people who are being diagnosed are living with cancer.

"It's always a challenge how we're going to sustain the service for Manitobans," said Navaratnam.

With files from Ian Froese