We hope this newsletter finds you well and in good health.

What a time we’re living in! At Breast Cancer Action Quebec, like most people, we don’t know whether to be hopeful about how we are navigating the pandemic; we are deeply upset about the climate crisis; we’re having trouble concentrating on the elections and we all agree, summer vacations went too quickly!

But, despite all that, the team is back together, working hard and we have a new member. 
Ama Maria Anney. Photography by Joana Choumali.
We are delighted to announce that Ama Maria Anney is joining the team as project coordinator. Ama Maria has been on the board of BCAQ since 2015, most recently in the position of co-president with Nancy Guberman. She has been an active volunteer particularly on the human resources committee and for our work on breast cancer and immigrant and racialized women. Ama Maria joins our team after 10 years as an analyst and project manager in the Quebec feminist movement.

Her most recent position was Policy Analyst and co-coordinator Governance Strategic Vision at the Regroupement québécois des centres d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel (RQCALACS), an important provincial association of organizations that help victims of sexual violence and work for systemic changes to prevent sexual violence. She is highly experienced in advocacy and prevention work. Having collaborated closely with Ama Maria for more than several years, I can tell you she is incredibly smart, articulate and committed to the causes she believes in. With Ama Maria joining Trish, Vio, Catherine and myself, it will be the year of the dream team!

Jennifer Beeman
Executive Director
Our 30th Anniversary!
November marks the 30th anniversary of Breast Cancer Action Quebec! It is always surprising to look back to our beginnings and see just how prescient the issues raised by the founding women were and how the rigorous, science-based organizational culture they created remains intact. Our work has evolved in exciting new ways in the recent years, and this year will mark further new steps forward.

Save the Date for a celebration of 30 years of activism!

December 9th, 2021 from 7-10 p.m. More details to follow at a later date.
This year, our AGM will take place in October instead of September. As usual we’re hosting an event before the business part of our meeting.

When: October 27th
Where: La Maison Parent Roback (469 Jean-Talon West) AND ON ZOOM

4 -6 p.m. Round table on a variety of preoccupying environmental health issues. A hybrid event will take place both in person at the Maison Parent-Roback and on Zoom. As always, we’ll follow public health guidelines so stay tuned for updates. Details of the Roundtable to follow.

6-7 p.m. Casual supper
7-9 p.m. AGM

You are new to BCAQ and would like to have the right to vote at our AGM? Make a 10-35$ donation to become a member!

Over the summer, you may have seen the news about Health Canada’s consultations on pesticides. First, Health Canada announced a consultation on changing the pesticide regulations on glyphosate to increase the allowable residues of glyphosate on legumes. Then, two weeks later, they announced another consultation, again to increase the allowable residues of certain pesticides and fungicides on berries. As it was unlikely that citizens or individual farmers were asking Health Canada to change these regulations, journalists pushed to find out who requested these changes. And in both cases, it was the manufacturer of the pesticides in question.

This raises so many questions about access of manufacturers and industry generally to ministries and agencies whose mandate is to protect the public. But the good news is that citizens were so outraged by the news, they wrote massively to Health Canada who quickly cancelled the two consultations. In addition, the issue of “industry capture” at Health Canada, meaning a high degree of access and influence of manufacturers and industries that those ministries are supposed to regulate, has been revealed to the public.

At Breast Cancer Action Quebec, one of our important take-aways is that citizen action works. It was due to the tremendous push back by citizens, especially in Quebec, that we will not be exposed to increased pesticide and fungicide residues on legumes and berries, at least for now. We will continue to make news of concern and citizen actions available to you throughout the year. It is a part of our work that we strongly believe in! 
These federal elections will determine who controls and who influences government actions and decisions for the next several years, two years on average if it’s a minority government and four years if it’s a majority. There are major issues that need decisive action now, no matter the form of the government.

Breast Cancer Action Quebec does important advocacy work that is of federal jurisdiction. You have undoubtedly seen it through our newsletters and social media. Toxics regulations, the price of patented drugs and pharmacare, the need to reform sick benefits under employment insurance, to which we would add the power of lobbies in Ottawa, are all issues that we are working to change.

Here is our list of questions that you can ask candidates as they meet voters and/or have debates in your riding.

Toxics Reform
Toxics regulations in Canada under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act are outdated and ineffective. In April, the government introduced Bill C-28 to reform CEPA. The bill contained some advances, most notably introducing the right to a health environment in the legislation. However, the bill was very limited in its proposals to reform the regulations on toxic substances. In our work with other health and environment groups, we determined that it was possible to work with the bill and that with strong amendments, we could get a substantive reform of toxics regulations, among other issues.

Our question: Will your party commit to reintroduce a significantly strengthened version of Bill-C-28 to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and prioritize its passage through Parliament?

Climate Change and Health in Canada
Climate change is not an issue that BCAQ works on directly. There are many great groups that do. However, without exaggeration, it has become an existential issue for the planet, humans and hundreds of thousands of species of animals, insects and plants that make up our ecosystems. Even those of us who seem relatively safe from the worst effects, may still experience major environmental health problems due to climate change. Canada currently owns a pipeline that it is constructing through Indigenous territories, which has divided communities. And Canada has the highest level of per capita emissions, in large part due to the exploitation of oil from the tar sands and the fracking of natural gas. Further, both sectors receive billions of dollars in subsidies from the federal government (just how many billions varies somewhat depending on the source).

Our question: Concretely, given the urgency of climate action, what are the main elements of your party’s plan for accelerating a green transition? And how will you protect the health of all Canadians as we face new environmental health threats due to the climate crisis?

Extension of Sick Leave Benefits Beyond the Current 15 Weeks
Currently, individuals who must take time off work due to illness and do not have private short term disability insurance, must go on sick benefits under the employment insurance program, assuming they qualify for EI which many workers don’t. These benefits, which only last 15 weeks, at 55% of their gross income are capped at $56,300 insurance income for 2021.

Our question: What does your party propose to do to change this system that many precarious workers don’t even qualify for and makes those who do much poorer when they face a serious illness? 

The high Cost of Prescription Drugs
According to independent researchers, Canadians pay some of the highest prices for prescription drugs among countries with public health insurance. In addition, at least 26% of Canadians have not filled a prescription or have skipped doses because of the cost of their medication.

Our question: What is your party's plan to create a fair and sustainable prescription drug system for Canadians?

Reforming the Access Lobbyists Have to Government Ministries and Agencies
In our work advocating for reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and reducing the price of prescription drugs, we see the tremendous power of corporations that lobby heavily against reforms that would better the lives of Canadians, our health and our environment. We saw this in the Health Canada consultations to increase carcinogenic pesticide residues of food that was at the request of the pesticide producers. In addition, according to the Canada’s Commissioner of Lobbying, 2020-2021 was a record-breaking year for federal lobbying activity.

Our question: What will your party do to reduce the influence and access of corporate lobbyists in Canada?
100 Debates on the Environment
The excellent 100 Debates on the Environment are back for the federal elections! Environmental issues are more important than ever. The federal government is responsible for the most wide-reaching environmental legislation in Canada: Climate change, toxics and pollution, pesticides, plastics, biodiversity – we need to debate what has been done well, what has been done less well and what hasn’t been done at all. If there is a debate in your riding, it would be great to attend and make sure candidates commit clearly to CEPA reform and other important actions for our environment and our health. Bring our list of questions with you and fire away!

The Financial Burden of Cancer and Chronic Illness
Having cancer and/or other chronic illnesses can interfere with our lives in so many ways. One aspect that is often left out of the mainstream discourse is the huge impact it can have on our financial wellbeing. We’ve delved into this issue with a major project - a dedicated website which examines the problem from many angles and consolidates available resources and information. Look out for the launch of the Financial Burden of Cancer and Chronic Illness website soon.

In the meantime, it is encouraging to see public discussion about this topic taking place.
Cedars CanSupport Well-Being Conversation with Chantal Le Blanc: CANCER AND WORK LIFE
Join the Cedars Cancer Centre to hear Chantal Le Blanc, T.S. Masters in Social Work, Oncology Social worker at the Cedars Cancer Centre of the McGill University Health Centre, for an opportunity to learn and engage in a meaningful conversation about cancer and work life.

When: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 11:00 to 12:00
Registration & Information: rola.mouchantaf@muhc.mcgill.ca
514-934-1934 extension 35297

Join us at the Fridays for Future Demonstration on September 24
As an organization dedicated to environmental health, we know that fossil fuels are not only responsible for climate change but are also connected to chronic illnesses such as breast cancer. September 24 at 1pm is the date of the big demonstration of the Fridays for Future youth movement. Judging by the size of the historic march of September 2019 when Greta Thunberg was in Quebec, we might be as many as tens of thousands of people walking the streets of Montreal for climate justice.

If you want to join us for the march, save the date and stay tuned for our meeting point in our next newsletter and on our social media! We are looking forward to seeing you there, and to meeting new faces.

This is a brand new section of our newsletter dedicated to you – our members and readers. We will welcome new members to our community and share anything you would like us to in this section (except your aunt Milly’s recipe for Cod Tongue Chowder 😁😋). If you have items of interest please send them to info@acsqc.ca.
Members' Fundraising Efforts Rock!
We so appreciated the initiatives that members Laura Shea and Deb VanSlet put into action this spring and summer. By making their birthdays Facebook fundraisers for Breast Cancer Action Quebec, these two friends raised the whopping sum of $3681.00. It was decided that the money raised would go directly to pay a graphic artist we love working with for a project we had been trying to kick start for a while. Thank you so much Laura and Deb!
In Memoriam
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Helene (Leni) Petoussis at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital on August 22, 2021 at the age of 52. Helene leaves behind BCAQ Board member Elana Wright, her loving partner of many years, their son Stelio and a wide circle of friends from the many communities she was part of. Helene became a quick study of breast cancer treatments both traditional and complimentary when she was diagnosed with the disease in 2016. Throughout her five years of living with breast cancer Helene shared her research, insights and wisdom with all who were interested. Despite her advancing cancer, she never lost her passion for music, food and more. She was a dynamic dj at our Zumbathon Dance Party last spring. We have lost an important friend.