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Romano walks back cancer comments

Still defends decision denying cancer patients coverage for expensive take-home cancer treatments
Ross Romano stock photo. James Hopkin/SooToday

Ross Romano has apologized for comparing cancer patients to children squabbling over action figures or ice cream.

"I used an anecdote," the Sault MPP told CTV's Lincoln Louttit on Friday.

"It was a poor choice of words, and for that I apologize. It was a poor choice of words. I do not stand by those comments."

But Romano maintains his government was right to vote against providing cancer patients with free access to costly take-home cancer medication.

"What I can say is, while we all want the same thing, where we differ is how to get there. And we are in a situation right now in this province that we just can't afford to write a blank cheque," Romano told CTV.

Materials distributed by the Ontario New Democrats accused Romano of likening cancer patients to "spoiled" children but Romano didn't go quite that far.

He didn't use the word "spoiled."

Instead, he drew a controversial analogy to his own children, three young boys:

I’ve got three kids at home. When I go to the store with my kids, they say: 'Daddy, I want that and I want that.' Well, I’ve got three kids, so if I buy one kid the Captain America figurine, I’ve got to buy all three of them one. In my house, I’ve got to buy one Captain America, one Iron Man and one Incredible Hulk.

Then they’re going to say: 'Well, daddy, I also want an ice cream.' 'Okay, I’ll buy you an ice cream too. All right. Hey, do you want it?' 'Absolutely.' But sooner or later, something’s got to give. I can’t buy them everything.

If I’m really going to be reasonable in how I administer because at the end of the day, we’ve only got so much money spread to go around. In Ontario, we’ve only got about $187 billion to play with. If we already spend over $60 billion on health, and of that we already spend about a billion on our medications for cancer alone, so what about everything else?

Do you know what? If you want to fund everything and if the bar is going to be set that we should fund every single medication, even the ones that we barely know anything about because that’s what this motion is.

It’s a very, very sad reality it is but you can’t have everything. We just can’t. Unfortunately, someone has to be the adult in the room, and someone has to play the parent once in a while and say: 'Sorry. You can’t have everything. You just can’t.' That’s the world we live in. That’s the situation we’re in.

On Friday, Romano announced $88,521 in funding to Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre to advance opportunities in the local agricultural sector.

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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