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Financial hardship of cancer in Canada: a call for action
Nine out of ten Canadian families touched by cancer report some form of financial challenge as incomes decline and household costs rise. For some, a cancer diagnosis begins a financial tailspin that pushes ordinary people over the edge resulting in debt, distress, bankruptcy and even a lifetime on social assistance.
The Canadian Cancer Society, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Action Network (CCAN) undertook a comprehensive review of research on the financial impact of a chronic illness and then completed interviews with health care professionals, frontline workers as well as cancer patients, caregivers and their families to compare the research findings with the Manitoba experience.
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What emerged was a consistent picture of financial hardship caused not by a single challenge but rather a combination of factors that created a perfect storm as sick time and vacation time was used up and costs increased because of day-to-day living costs and unforeseen expenses from drugs and medical equipment to child care and travel increased. Surprisingly, parking costs at treatment facilities were more than a minor irritant, they were a major expense.
Establishing a national caregivers strategy
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.