TORONTO - The province will spend $39 million a year to offer Grade 8 girls a vaccine which could prevent cervical cancer, Premier Dalton McGuinty will announce Thursday.

The Canadian Press has learned the cash will fund vaccinations for some 84,000 girls a year and will protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), a disease which is associated with 70 per cent of the cases of cervical cancer.

The money stems from federal funding which was set aside for three years.

A government source said the province has chosen to use the money by targeting young girls in school and will try to renegotiate stable funding in the future.

Ontario is going ahead with the program despite concerns expressed by a group of researchers who suggest the idea of widespread inoculation is being embraced too quickly.

The researchers say in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that the incidence of cervical cancer is declining, partially because of regular Pap smear detection programs.

But the Ontario government source said the Liberals are convinced "it's a worthwhile vaccination.'' "This new vaccine is going to save the lives of Ontario women,'' the source said. "We are proceeding because it's going to save lives. Too many of our mothers and sisters are getting cervical cancer and we have an opportunity to do something about it.''