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CCO's 75 years of healthcare transformation

sep 4, 2018

Michael Sherar

Insights & Perspectives 4 minute read

Back in 1943, when our organization was incorporated as The Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, the five-year cancer survival rate was around 25% and no effective treatment existed for kidney disease.

Michael Sherar, President & CEO of CCO
Michael Sherar, CCO President and CEO

What a transformation we have seen in the decades since! Today, the five-year cancer survival rate is close to 65%, and dialysis and transplantation offer life-saving options to people with kidney disease.

This year marks our 75th anniversary as an agency of the Ontario government. It's a terrific opportunity to look back at what has been collectively achieved for the benefit of Ontarians, understand what we have learned, and think about our future.

Laying the foundation for our work

In our early years, we opened and managed cancer clinics across the province and, in 1960, launched a therapeutic drug plan to make cancer drugs more accessible. We also enabled the sharing of data and information, which helped lay the foundation for our work today.

The province's first breast cancer screening program was introduced in 1990. Screening programs for cervical and colorectal cancers would be launched in the years to follow.

In 1997, we became known as Cancer Care Ontario with a mandate to improve cancer services in the province. We also began our partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis and urban Indigenous groups to improve cancer care in these communities.

As our organization continued to grow, so did the rise in cancer cases largely associated with Ontario's growing and aging population. In the late 1990s, we worked with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and regional partners to plan for system-wide changes in the administration of cancer services.

A major change occurred in January 2004, when we moved from a cancer care delivery organization to an agency that would oversee funding for cancer services, with a strong focus on quality and performance. In the years that followed, we were also asked by the government to collect and report accurate and timely wait time data for key health services.

Based on the results of this new approach, CCO was given additional responsibilities. We formed the Ontario Renal Network in 2009 to oversee the delivery of chronic kidney disease services. We have also created communities of patient and family advisors.

Reflecting on our history, I see several areas that have enabled steady and significant progress in the health system for the people of Ontario and that will continue to serve us well in the years ahead.

These include:

  • Broad engagement with our partners – including clinical experts, hospital administrators, government, Indigenous communities and patients and families;
  • A reliance on best evidence in our decision-making;
  • A clear network of accountability for implementing programs and initiatives;
  • A strong focus on using data and information to measure and manage performance in cancer, chronic kidney disease and access to care; and
  • A deep-rooted organizational commitment to improving quality of care for the people of Ontario.

You can read more about our transformation as an organization in our digital timeline. Be sure to watch this blog as well in the coming months for more insights and perspectives. 

Based on our history, I am confident that we – CCO, along with our partners and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care – will meet the healthcare challenges before us as we work together to create the best health systems in the world.


Watch more about CCO's transformation:




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