More family practices can now provide best in class prevention to patients

Canadian health care innovation opening an institute to train health practitioners as prevention experts

July 4, 2018 (Toronto) – The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) will provide $2.98 million to ensure more Canadians benefit from proven cancer prevention approaches through the BETTER program. The funding is part of over $6.7 million provided by the Partnership to build and expand BETTER since 2009. The University of Alberta will host the new phase over the next three years with the opening of the “BETTER Training Institute” consisting of two branches, one in Eastern Canada and one in Western Canada.

Cancer incidence rates are increasing in Canada.1 As the population ages, solutions are needed to prevent or, at least, to detect cancer earlier. BETTER will provide Canadians with prevention and screening strategies to address cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and associated risk factors, seamlessly integrated into family practices.

Increasing the use of the BETTER approach will support national goals of fewer Canadians developing cancer and if cancer develops, to detect it sooner when treatment is more likely to be effective. The program trains primary care providers – such as registered nurses – to become “Prevention Practitioners,” specially trained in cancer and chronic disease prevention.

After completing the training, Prevention Practitioners will be able to have focused discussions with patients on lifestyle risk factors as well as their personal medical and family history, use the BETTER toolkit to create a personalized “prevention prescription,” and create an action plan in collaboration with patients based on their individual goals.

Studies conducted during earlier phases of the program show that engaging with Prevention Practitioners resulted in a notable improvement in patients’ ability to set goals and carry through on preventative health activities. The data show prevention prescriptions helped patients stay on track, with activities improving their overall health, such as getting screened for cancer and chronic diseases as well as changing lifestyle behaviours.

The three-year funding will support Canadians in up to seven provinces with a focus on training staff in primary care clinical settings serving rural, remote and First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations. The Eastern branch, based at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, will open to initially serve Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Western branch, based at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, will open to initially serve Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba. Following this phase, the Partnership will look at opportunities to bring BETTER to remaining provinces and territories.

The BETTER program was created in 2009 with funding from the Partnership, which brought together research, practice, and policy experts to form coalitions that integrate cancer prevention with strategies to prevent other chronic diseases.

Primary care providers, other health practitioners, and interested members of the public who would like to learn more about the BETTER program can visit: or watch this infographic video.


Cindy Morton, CEO of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

“BETTER is one of the most successful cancer prevention programs the Partnership has funded. Cancer is one of the biggest challenges facing this country. Prevention initiatives like this are proven to be effective in meeting the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control’s long-term goals of fewer Canadians developing cancer, fewer Canadians dying from cancer, and a better quality of life for Canadians affected.”

Dr. Eva Grunfeld, Chief Scientific Advisor for the BETTER Training Institute and professor and vice-chair at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine

“Primary care providers in Canada are not able to optimally focus on prevention given current practice demands and health system constraints. Interactions about specific preventative health activities are often episodic and opportunistic. The BETTER program will change this, making conversations about prevention a routine part of primary care and having primary care support patients in their efforts.”

Dr. Donna Manca, Medical Director for the BETTER Training Institute and professor and Director of Research at the University of Alberta’s Department of Family Medicine

“Most guidelines and resources are focused on one disease or organ system. However, our patients are at risk for multiple diseases and do not want to be treated as a disease, but as a person. The BETTER program blends the evidence-based guidelines and provides an integrated approach to holistically informing patients about their health, providing them with a personalized prevention prescription.”

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Nick Williams
Communications Officer, Media Relations
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
416-915-9222, x5799 (office); 647-388-9647 (mobile)

Ross Neitz
Communications Associate
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, U of A

About the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

As the steward of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, the Partnership works with partners to reduce the burden of cancer on Canadians. Our partner network – cancer agencies, health system leaders and experts, and people affected by cancer – brings a wide variety of expertise to every aspect of our work. After 10 years of collaboration, we are accelerating work that improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the cancer control system, aligning shared priorities and mobilizing positive change across the cancer continuum. From 2017-2022, our work is organized under five themes in our Strategic Plan: quality, equity, seamless patient experience, maximize data impact, sustainable system. The Partnership continues to support the work of the collective cancer community in achieving our shared 30-year goals: a future in which fewer people get cancer, fewer die from cancer and those living with the disease have a better quality of life. The Partnership was created by the federal government in 2006 to move the Strategy into action and receives ongoing funding from Health Canada to continue leading the Strategy with partners from across Canada.  Visit

About the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta is a leader in educating and training exceptional practitioners and researchers of the highest international standards. The faculty’s mission is to advance health through excellence in teaching, research and patient care. It is home to one of the top 100 ranked medical schools in the world. For more information, please visit

About the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine

The University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine is recognized internationally for its clinical, educational and research excellence. Our faculty are clinical and academic leaders who are breaking new ground on issues ranging from inner city health, addiction medicine, global health, palliative care, immigrant and aboriginal health, and far more. Encompassing more than 1600 faculty across the province – from rural villages to urban centres – we are shaping the future of family medicine in Canada. Visit


1-Canadian Cancer Society. Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians expected to get cancer: report. Available at: