Canada’s health care system gives free mammograms and pap smears to women to test for cancers. But men don’t get the same benefits when it comes to testing for prostate cancer. Men have to pay a $30 fee for a test while women get their tests for free.

Today, a lawyer in Victoria B.C. is challenging this inequity before B.C.’s human rights tribunal, arguing that the provincial Ministry of Health is discriminating against him on the basis of sex because it won’t pay for his prostate cancer screening test, a blood test knows as a PSA.

David Durskin, chair of the Vancouver Island Prostate Cancer Research Foundation says the PSA tests are rarely requested, and “[even] if you’re showing a high count of prostate-specific antigens, then men are often required to pay for the test.”

And while the cost of prostate cancer treatment is covered by the Medical Services Plan, the side effects of those treatments are not. But for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer everything is covered.

The group hopes the tribunal will order the Ministry of Health to start paying for the early detection test for all men over the age of 40.

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