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Cancer Care

Did you Know? Cancer Has a Price Tag That Many Canadians Can’t Afford

Andrea Seale

CEO, Canadian Cancer Society

The out-of-pocket costs associated with cancer care are a major burden or impossibility for many Canadians. Something needs to change.

Despite living in a country with universal health care, many people with cancer in Canada are paying out-of-pocket to access the essential care they need. These costs can be associated with anything from medication and caregiver expenses to getting to appointments and other travel costs.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) partnered with the Angus Reid Group to conduct a survey, which found that the out-of-pocket costs associated with a cancer diagnosis would be unbearable for many Canadians. Over two-thirds of respondents said that additional monthly expenses related to cancer care would make it difficult for them to manage financial necessities, and one-third said that they’d need to go into debt to pay for these expenses. Equally concerning, a second 2024 survey commissioned in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and conducted by Léger revealed that nearly one in four people in Canada reported skipping doses, splitting pills, or not filling prescriptions due to cost.

Closing the care gap

These challenges are compounded by the fact that, while we know cancer can affect anyone, it doesn’t affect everyone equally. There are deep disparities in cancer risk, care, and costs that can impact a person’s cancer treatment, outcomes, and overall experience. For underserved populations, like people living in rural and remote communities and families caring for young children facing cancer, the costs can be even greater.

We must do more to reduce out-of-pocket costs and close the care gap for people facing cancer. But it will take all of us working collectively to make a significant change.

How can you help? Get involved. Volunteer your time or donate to organizations like CCS that are making life easier for those experiencing cancer. Offer a helping hand to someone who is going through cancer — a simple gesture like making a meal or caring for children can make a big difference. Lastly, use your voice. We need government to recognize the gaps in our system and work to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of cancer. 

It takes a society to change the future of cancer forever. Add your signature to our letter by visiting

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