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Financial help

When dealing with a cancer diagnosis or coping with treatment and recovery, patients and their families often worry about finances and benefits. There are lots of questions, such as:

  • “What happens to my income?”
  • “Where will my money come from?”
  • “How long can I be off work?”
  • “Will I be able to afford my treatments and any other associated costs?”
  • “Can I travel or leave the province if I am receiving government assistance?”
  • “Can I afford to take time off work to care for a loved one who has cancer?”

Below is information on programs and resources available to residents of Ontario. This information can help you determine your options, and guide you in the direction of where to get help. You may find help from one or more of the programs listed below.

Be sure to discuss your options with your healthcare provider(s), social worker, government representatives, financial advisor and insurance representative. These people have the expertise and knowledge to help you put the appropriate programs together to assist you best.

  • Medical and drug coverage

    Ontario Health Insurance Plan
    1 866 532-3161 (Service Ontario INFOline)

    Ontario residents are eligible to access healthcare services provided by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

    Ontario Public Drug Programs
    1 866 532-3161 (Service Ontario INFOline)

    Ontario residents receive drug benefits from Ontario’s drug programs. The province has six different programs.

    The Trillium Drug Program
    1 800 575-5386

    This program helps people who have high prescription drug costs relative to their household income.

    If you have any questions regarding The Trillium Drug Benefit or its application process click here for more info.

    Canada Revenue Agency – Medical Expenses
    1 800 959-8281 (Income Tax Enquiries)

    Individuals or a spouse or common law partner, may be able to claim the total eligible medical expenses incurred on their annual income tax return. Keep all receipts.

  • Getting income from your assets

    For information about your mortgage, liquid assets, reducing debts through disability premium waivers, converting acquired assets, and converting your life insurance policy into a living benefit, please contact your financial advisor or insurance representative.

  • Employer-based income programs

    For extended health coverage, short-term disability and long-term disability benefits please contact your employer’s Human Resources or personnel department to find out the details of your policy.

  • Government income programs based on your assets

    Ontario Disability Support Program
    1 888 789-4199

    This program helps people with disabilities who are in financial need pay for living expenses, like food and housing.

    Ontario Works
    Or call your local Ontario Works Office

    If you are in temporary financial need, Ontario Works can:

    • provide you with money, and
    • help you find a job.
  • Government income programs based on your contributions/premiums and amounts paid through employer

    Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits
    1 800-206-7218 (Service Canada)

    Employment Insurance (EI) provides Sickness Benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of sickness, injury, or quarantine.

    EI - Compassionate Care Benefits
    1 800-206-7218 (Service Canada)

    Compassionate care benefits are Employment Insurance (EI) benefits paid to people who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill and who has a significant risk of death.

    Canada Pension Plan – Disability Benefits
    1-800-277-9914 (Service Canada)

    Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits provide a monthly taxable benefit to contributors who are disabled and to their dependent children.

  • If your child has cancer

    The Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) partners with specialized centres and satellite hospitals to deliver care to children with cancer and their families. Centres provide access to services as well as some financial assistance.

    Pediatric cancer treatment centres in Ontario

    The POGO Oncology Financial Assistance Program (POFAP) may help your family with some of the costs related to accommodation, food and babysitting while your child is receiving treatment. The Canadian Cancer Society helped to establish this program, which is now fully operated by POGO.

    To learn more about this support program, contact a social worker in the pediatric oncology department at any of the following hospitals:

  • Suggestions for support during financial stress
    • Review all income programs that might be available to you. Make note of eligibility such as income, assets and the definition of disability.
    • Reach out to sources of support and guidance such as others living with cancer, various government and community programs, and your government representatives locally, provincially or federally.
    • Talk to your doctor about financial support programs that will require proof of your illness and proof that you meet their qualifying medical criteria. Ensure your doctor will help you with forms and paperwork.
    • Set up a support team of friends, family and professionals to help you with things like dealing with medical staff, government programs, and applications.
    • Keep your medical receipts for drugs, travel and meals out of town in case you need them at a later date.
    • Keep track of key dates so that you can submit things on time. Be aware that some programs may not work as quickly or smoothly as you’d like.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. All questions are important and people are there to help.


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