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The COVID19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world and has brought about unprecedented challenges for healthcare systems worldwide. Faced with an unforeseen wave of infectious disease, healthcare systems have had to quickly adapt and implement a myriad of solutions on a massive scale, including quarantines, contract tracing, artificial ventilation, vaccines, and diagnostic testing. Governments, health authorities, politicians and decision makers mobilized in an unprecedented fashion, to prevent further spread and deaths from the SARS-COV-2 virus. The pandemic exposed significant weaknesses in our healthcare systems, globally, including the challenges and disparities in cancer care. The need for governments to prioritize public health and for a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to addressing the ongoing challenges in cancer care is clear.

The COVID19 pandemic has taught us many lessons about the importance of prioritizing public health and addressing health disparities. Despite being one of the leading causes of death worldwide, cancer has yet to receive the priority it deserves within Canada’s provincial healthcare systems. Cancer, the silent pandemic, can no longer be ignored. 

In this colab.paper, we examine the response to COVID19 and explore how it can be used to inform a renewed political effort to address the growing burden of cancer. We examine the role of governments, healthcare systems, partners, and communities, and shed light on the steps.  We argue that by applying the lessons learned from the prioritization of the COVID19 pandemic, Canada can make meaningful progress towards improving outcomes for cancer patients. This will require a coordinated effort among government and nongovernment agencies, healthcare providers, patients and patient groups, and pharmaceutical industry (industry) stakeholders to reimagine cancer care and ensure that resources are appropriately allocated to address this urgent public health issue.

While COVID19 was a deadly and important event, the lessons learned during the pandemic offer solutions to prioritizing cancer (and healthcare) in Canada. Since the onset of the pandemic, social attitudes have shifted and healthcare has increasingly become a priority for Canadians, forcing decision makers to not only reimagine approaches to healthcare delivery but their role in steering an effective response to the growing burden of cancer in Canada. Using this as an opportunity to make significant change, in much the same way that governments and stakeholders have adapted to plagues and pandemics of the past. The COVID19 pandemic has shown us the importance of coordinated responses across different levels of government and the benefits that can come from this type of collaboration. 

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