The B.C. government is providing $20 million to help cover travel expenses for cancer patients across the province.
B.C. government officials said this will benefit all B.C. cancer patients, particularly those living in rural and remote areas.
“When people who are diagnosed with cancer must travel to receive treatment, they deserve support every step of the way,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “That’s why government is partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society and Hope Air to expand their existing programs in B.C. that aim to support all facets of cancer patient travel.”
“By providing grant funding to these two incredible charitable organizations, we are helping patients focus on receiving their cancer treatment at one of the six BC Cancer Centres or 41 community oncology network sites so they can get well as soon as possible.”
The B.C. government is providing the Canadian Cancer Society and Hope Air with $10 million each to expand their travel programs.
“The Canadian Cancer Society will expand its three programs: the Travel Treatment Fund (TTF), which provides grants to patients for travel expenses; the Wheels of Hope program, which matches patients with volunteer drivers; and their four lodges, which offer accommodation and meals for patients and their caregivers near cancer centres in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna and Prince George,” said B.C. government officials.
Officials add that applications under the TTF will be accepted retroactively to April 1, 2023.
New supports for patients with blood cancers who require bone marrow transplants in Vancouver will also be added.
“A cancer diagnosis places a significant financial and emotional strain on people with cancer and their families that is heightened for those needing to travel far distances to their treatment,” said Dr. Sandra Krueckl, executive vice president of mission, information and support services, Canadian Cancer Society. “Thanks to this generous funding from the B.C. Government, the Canadian Cancer Society is expanding access to our travel and accommodation support programs so more people in B.C., particularly in rural and remote communities, can access their life-saving cancer treatment.”
Meanwhile, Hope Air will expand services for patients and caregivers through increased ground transportation, overnight accommodations and meal vouchers for patients.
B.C. government officials said Hope Air will also provide 2,500 flights for patients travelling to receive cancer treatment by 2026.
“This medical travel funding grant supporting patients with cancer will be transformational for those living in rural and remote communities throughout British Columbia,” said Mark Rubinstein, chief hope officer with Hope Air. “Dealing with cancer is hard – travelling to care should not be. Hope Air programs will reduce the significant expenses associated with long-distance travel for those living far from hospitals and clinics and will help deliver much better health outcomes for cancer patients in need.”
Officials said you will be connected with the appropriate service regardless of which organization you contact first.
Patients with a household income of up to $150,000 or less will be eligible for travel support.
“These changes will allow cancer patients and their families to focus on self care, supporting loved ones and obtaining the rest they need, rather than dealing with logistical and financial hurdles,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health.