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Financial supports by region

When dealing with a cancer diagnosis or coping with treatment and recovery, patients and their families often worry about finances and benefits. This is especially true during a time of uncertainty about job security and income.

This page outlines a range of nationwide and regional financial programs that offer support to workers, caregivers and seniors, including support to help manage the impact of COVID-19.

Nationwide

  • Employment Insurance (EI) provides sickness benefits to people who cannot work because of sickness, injury or quarantine.

  • Caregiving benefits are EI benefits for people who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to someone who is critically ill or injured or who requires end-of-life care.

  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers tax deductions for some medical expenses that are not covered by insurance policies or other programs. Deductions and credits are also available for people with disabilities and their caregivers. For more information, call 1-800-959-8281 or visit CRA.

  • The following seniors programs are continuing:
  • The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides temporary income support of $500 a week for 16 weeks for those who have stopped working due to COVID-19.

  • The Goods and Services Tax Credit has been doubled.

  • Canada Child Benefit payments have been increased by $300 per child for the 2019-20 benefit year.

  • Seniors are entitled to a one-time, tax-free payment of $300 if they receive Old Age Security pension and an additional $200 if they qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). If seniors qualify for both programs, they can get $500. Individuals do not need to apply – they will get the payment by direct deposit or cheque.

Alberta

  • During COVID-19, the Alberta government is offering utility payment deferral, student loan repayment deferral and deferral on ATB lines of credit and mortgages for up to 6 months.

  • The Alberta Seniors Benefit program is an income-based program that provides a monthly cash benefit and determines Alberta Health Insurance premium exemptions for eligible seniors.

  • The Special Needs Assistance for Seniors program is an income-based program that provides a lump-sum cash payment to lower-income seniors facing financial difficulties.

  • Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) provides financial and health benefits for adult Albertans who have a permanent disability that severely impairs their ability to earn a living. The level of benefits depends on income and assets. The maximum living allowance is $1,000 per month, and additional benefits (personal income support benefits) may be provided to meet clients’ special needs.

  • The Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) program helps Albertans with a long-term disability, chronic illness or terminal illness to maintain their independence at home, in lodges or group homes by providing financial assistance to buy medical equipment and supplies. An assessment by a health care professional determines the equipment and supplies that an Albertan can receive through this program.

  • Income Support from Alberta Human Resources and Employment provides financial benefits to individuals and families who do not have the resources to meet their basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter.

British Columbia

  • Financial support from CCS
    • CCS offers financial help toward the cost of prescription medicines.
  • BC government additions to Disability Assistance and Income Assistance
    • For people receiving income assistance (IA) or disability assistance (DA) who are eligible for federal EI or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the BC government will fully exempt CERB or EI benefits they receive for 3 months. This means that people’s assistance rates will not be reduced during the pandemic.
    • Those on IA or DA who are not eligible for EI or CERB will receive an additional $300 a month for 3 months as a COVID-19 crisis supplement.
    • The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers provides a tax-free $1,000 payment to BC residents whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. The benefit is a one-time payment for those who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI) or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit due to COVID-19.
    • To learn more, visit the BC government disability assistance page, call 1-866-866-0800 or access services online through myselfserve.gov.bc.ca.
  • BC government support for seniors
    • Low-income seniors receiving the BC Senior's Supplement will receive a COVID-19 crisis supplement of an additional $300 a month for 3 months.
  • Comfort Fund
    • This is a limited fund offered through the Patient and Family Counselling offices at the BC Cancer Agency clinics.
    • It can help towards the cost of medications, travel costs and some accommodation. Because this is a limited fund, not all expense needs will be covered.
    • Assistance is offered on a case-by-case basis when all other funding sources have been exhausted. 
    • Clients should speak with the patient and family counselling staff at the cancer clinic where they have scheduled treatments.
  • Kimmunity Angels Society
    • This offers funding to local clients of the Terrace/Kitimat region in Northern BC.
    • To apply, visit Kimmunity Angels Society or call 250-641-2344.
  • United Way is matching volunteers to seniors for rides, meal prep, grocery shopping and so on. To use this program, visit bc211.ca.
  • BC Hydro customers experiencing job loss, illness or lost wages due to COVID-19 can access grants of up to $600 to pay their hydro bills through the Customer Crisis Fund.

Manitoba

  • The government has created a new Seniors Economic Recovery Credit to provide a one-time $200 refundable tax credit to Manitoba seniors facing additional costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Manitoba government is deferring any increases to the Manitoba Pharmacare deductible.

  • Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance will not charge interest or penalties, or disconnect customers, if they are unable to pay at this time.

  • Rent increases and non-urgent eviction hearings are being postponed until September 30.

New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Medical Transportation Assistance Program (MTAP) provides financial assistance to people on a Medical Care Plan (MCP) who experience substantial out-of-pocket travel costs for required specialized insured medical services.

  • The Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation program provides short-term financial assistance to people with cancer for treatment-related expenses. Eligibility is based on a demonstrated financial need, and an assessment by a social worker at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre is required. For more information, call the social work department at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre at 709-777-7604.

  • Hope Air is a national registered charity founded in 1986. This organization helps Canadians in financial need fly to medical treatments.

  • The Kids with Cancer Travel Fund provides limited short-term financial assistance for accommodations, travel and meals for children and their family members when travelling for medical treatment. Assistance is based on a demonstrated financial need, and a financial assessment is required. For more information, call the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre at 709-777-4436 or 709-777-4668.

  • Bay D’Espoir Local Cancer Benefit Group provides financial support to cancer patients living in the Bay D’Espoir area. Call 709-538-3545 for more information.

Northwest Territories

  • Extended health benefits are available to eligible people in the Northwest Territories who require health services beyond those covered by the Northwest Territories Health Care Plan.

  • Eligible recipients of the Métis Health Benefits Program can receive health benefits assistance.

  • The NT government is providing a one-time increase to the Income Assistance Program of $500 for single recipients and $1,000 for households with two or more people.

  • The government is also allowing residents to exempt monetary donations from household income.

Nova Scotia

  • The Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy Fund provides assistance for boarding and transportation to low-income Nova Scotians (income limit is currently $25,000 per household). For more information, visit novascotia.ca/dhw/pharmacare/cancer-assistance.asp.

  • Provincial Liaisons can help patients travelling for treatment from PEI or NB.

Ontario

  • Ontario government support
    • Ontario Works offers help to those in temporary financial need by providing money and help with finding a job. For more information, call your local Ontario Works Office.
    • The Ontario Disability Support Program helps people with disabilities who are in financial need pay for living expenses, such as food and housing. For more information, visit the program website or call 1-888-789-4199.
    • Ontario Public Drug Programs is a collection of six programs that offer drug benefits to Ontario residents. For more information, call 1-866-532-3161 (Service Ontario INFOline).
    • The Trillium Drug Program offers financial support to people who have high prescription drug costs relative to their household income. For more information, call 1-800-575-5386.
    • The Emergency Assistance Program can cover the cost of essentials such as food and housing for Ontario residents in a crisis or emergency situation who are not already getting support from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.
    • Approvals for medication and medical devices that were granted under the Exceptional Access Program, and were set to expire between February 1 and May 31, have been extended 90 days.
  • Ontario government support for seniors
    • The Ontario government is doubling funding through the Guaranteed Annual Income System payments for low-income seniors.

Prince Edward Island

  • PEI government support
    • Essential workers earning $3,000 a month or less can receive a one-time COVID-19 payment of $1,000, administered through their employer.

Quebec

  • Quebec government support
    • Depending on the hospital and region, some patients may have a portion of their accommodation paid by their region’s Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS).
    • The Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers offers essential workers earning less than $550 a week an additional weekly payment of up to $100. Payments are backdated to March 15 for a maximum of 16 weeks. Applications are open through the Revenu Québec website.

Saskatchewan

  • The Employee Self-Isolation Support Program offers $450 a week for up to 2 weeks or $900 total, for Saskatchewan residents who are forced to self-isolate and are not eligible for federal income support.

Yukon

  • Yukon government support
    • The government’s travel for medical treatment program provides subsidies for pre-approved transportation requests. 
    • The Yukon Chronic Disease Program provides financial assistance for prescription drugs, medical equipment, food supplements or prostheses that are required to manage a condition. 
    • The Paid Sick Leave Rebate allows Yukon workers and self-employed without paid sick leave to stay at home due to COVID-19 if they become sick or are required to self-isolate while still meeting their basic financial needs.
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