VANCOUVER, BC – September 27, 2023
The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and Hope Air welcome today’s announcement by the Government of British Columbia of an initial investment of $20 – $10 million to CCS and Hope Air respectively – enhancing travel support for people in BC living in rural, remote and smaller communities. The two organizations will be using the funds to expand access to travel and accommodation services for people with cancer who need to travel outside their home community for treatment and are facing financial hardship as a result.
For those living outside urban centres and major cities, the financial burden of travelling to cancer treatment or other medical appointments and paying for airline, accommodation, meals and ground transportation, often for extended periods of time, can be substantial. Many Canadians living in rural and remote areas face significant economic, psychosocial and informational needs and have poorer health outcomes. Without financial assistance for travel, some patients may be forced to cancel or defer their treatment.
The $10 million investment to CCS will allow for the creation of the Cancer Travel and Accommodation Services BC program, which offers updates to all 3 travel support programs offered by CCS. It will also enable the establishment of a new travel grant for bone marrow transplant recipients for treatment of cancer. Through this program, CCS will:
- Increase access and eligibility for the Travel Treatment Fund while simultaneously providing more funding to each eligible applicant
- Eliminate patients’ out-of-pocket costs to stay at our BC-based lodges (a nominal fee still remains for caregivers)
- Expand Wheels of Hope volunteer driving program service to underserved areas on Vancouver Island and in the Kootenay region
- Establish a leukemia/bone marrow transplant grant for patients needing to relocate to Vancouver for a transplant
The $10 million investment to Hope Air will enable significant expansion of existing Travel and Accommodation services. In addition to assisting many more patients with their cancer travel needs, Hope Air expanded programs will include:
- Free round-trip air travel from home to hospital for both patients and travel escorts, who provide emotional and physical support
- Up to 14 consecutive nights of free hotel accommodation for patients and escorts, where CCS lodging is unavailable
- Free Uber or Taxi airport transportation from airport to hospital in select communities where CCS’s volunteer driving program is unavailable
- Expansion of daily meals support for patients staying in Hope Air partner hotels
CCS and Hope Air each have a long history of supporting people who need to travel to receive medical care and treatment. The organizations offer distinct but complementary programs and services nationwide. They have a successful track record of collaboration and cross-referrals to ensure clients can access their crucial medical treatments when and where they need it.
Bridging the distance between home and hospital for people in need, Hope Air provides free flights, accommodations, airport ground transportation and meal vouchers for families and individuals who must travel for medical care. Through this funding, Hope Air will expand its programs to serve more patients with enhanced services. When a person needs to travel long distance to reach their cancer treatment, the Hope Air Client Care team will make all flight arrangements on behalf of patients and cover all costs. Hope Air’s team will also coordinate other supporting travel arrangements, including CCS’s Travel and Accommodation Services where available and providing hotel and airport transportation alternatives when needed.
CCS offers 3 different travel support programs in British Columbia. The Wheels of Hope volunteer driving program, available in Prince George, on Vancouver Island and in the Interior, is free and connects people who need transportation to cancer treatments with volunteer drivers. CCS’s Travel Treatment Fund (TTF) offers short-term financial assistance to cover a portion of a person’s cancer-related transportation expenses such as public transit, fuel, accommodations or meals. CCS’s Lodge accommodations provide a home-away-from-home for people with cancer who have to travel from their community for treatment.
CCS and Hope Air will work in close partnership to remove barriers to accessing transportation services, ensuring people can get the support they need to get to and from their medical appointments however and whenever they need.
“The distance to treatment and need for supports puts a significant financial and emotional strain on people with cancer and their families during one of the most challenging times of their lives,” says Dr Sandra Krueckl, Executive Vice President of Mission, Information and Support Services at CCS
. “No one should have to miss their cancer treatment because they can’t find transportation or accommodation, but unfortunately that’s a reality that exists in areas across the country today, particularly in rural communities. Thanks to this generous funding from the BC Government, we will be able to continue reducing the burden on people in BC going through life-saving cancer treatment, no matter where in the province they live.”
“Dealing with cancer is very hard – travelling to care should not be. This medical travel funding grant will be transformational in the lives of people in need in rural and remote communities throughout British Columbia,” said Mark Rubinstein, Chief Executive Officer at Hope Air
. “Eliminating significant financial expenses associated with medical travel, for those living far from Hospitals and Clinics, is critical to achieve equitable and timely access to screening, diagnosis, and treatment. The expansion of our programs and services for cancer patients in British Columbia, will deliver better health outcomes for all”.
To learn more about the Canadian Cancer Society’s transportation and lodge services, visit cancer.ca or call 1-888-939-3333.
To learn more about Hope Air’s travel support, visit hopeair.ca or call 1-877-346-HOPE (4673).
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, across Canada and for all types of cancer. As the voice for people who care about cancer, we work with governments to shape a healthier society. No other organization does all that we do to make lives better today and transform the future of cancer forever. Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.
About Hope Air
Hope Air is Canada’s national charity providing free travel support through flights, accommodations, meals and ground transportation for Canadians in financial need who must access medical care far from home. Since its inception in 1986, Hope Air has provided more than 170,000 travel arrangements for patients regardless of age or medical need. For people living on a low income in small and rural communities, distance and cost are very real barriers to them accessing vital medical care. Hope Air is a unique and essential part of our Canadian healthcare system. Without the access Hope Air provides, our national system of universal healthcare coverage would fall short of its promise and 33 per cent of patients would cancel or postpone their appointments. For more information, visit hopeair.ca.
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Cancer Society
(437) 266-2493 Ext. 23128
Director of Marketing & Communications