Canadian Cancer Society asks public’s help in increasing funds to help cancer patients

19 September 2013

Halifax -

The Canadian Cancer Society is appealing to Nova Scotia political leaders with an online Letter of Support found on their website at The letter, which the public is urged to sign, urges Nova Scotia’s political leaders to commit the Government of Nova Scotia to raising the annual family income threshold for the Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy (BTO) Program allowing more Nova Scotia families to qualify for financial assistance during cancer treatments.


More than 6,100 cancer diagnoses are estimated this year in our province. For the 91 per cent of Nova Scotians receiving this devastating news, their diagnosis will bring significant financial hardship. Almost half of the province lives in rural areas and with up to 20 trips required to cancer treatment centres in Halifax and Sydney, the financial impact can be crippling.


The Government of Nova Scotia’s BTO Program was designed to help patients more easily cope with the financial burden associated with travel, accommodations and supplies after receiving a cancer diagnosis. However, to qualify, people need to have a gross annual family income no greater than $15,720 per year. This maximum is so restrictive that most of the provinces working poor do not qualify.


“The BTO program allowed cancer patients such as Maynard Simpson from Cumberland County to receive assistance during his treatments here in Halifax,” says Kelly Cull, Manager of Government and Partner Relations. “Ultimately, this support prevented them from a financial strain that would’ve resulted in significant debt. The Simpsons, who were almost denied support from the BTO program, have become advocates for a threshold that reflects similar Provincial support programs.


The Canadian Cancer Society met with all three political parties about the BTO program. At this time, only the Progressive Conservative party has committed to including it in their health platform.


The letter asks that the income maximum for the province’s BTO Program be adjusted to align with other provincially-funded assistance programs. The current maximum for the BTO Program was set in 1994.


The Canadian Cancer Society’s goal throughout the election is to educate potential leaders about the importance of cancer-related issues and encourage them to support healthy public policy. All levels of government have the power to positively affect the health of their citizens.


Sign the Letter of Support

For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333; TTY, 1 866 786-3934.