A person wearing a face mask outside.

Impact Report


Letter from Robert Lawrie & Andrea Seale

A year of urgency, continued change and inspiration

In this report, you will read about the impact of your support in 2020/21.

Last year we were continuing the transformation of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) with our amalgamation with Prostate Cancer Canada and other ambitious projects when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It forced us to find new ways to fuel our mission of supporting everyone affected by cancer in Canada. We adjusted every plan and program. 

Although we benefitted from government support, we had to change the way we fundraise, pivoting our in-person events to virtual and reimagining our digital and community engagement efforts. Committed to the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and clients, we introduced new procedures and we moved many of our support services online. These changes allowed us to lower our operating expenses and balance our budget, all while delivering on our mission for people affected by cancer and our funding commitments for life-saving research.

Because of you, we are improving lives today and changing the future of cancer forever.

Thank you for your generous support.

Headshot of Andrea Seale

Andrea Seale

Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Cancer Society
Headshot of Robert Lawrie

Robert Lawrie

Chair, Board of Directors
Canadian Cancer Society

A snapshot of our impact

Our impact was powered by the generous support of more than 441,000 donors, nearly 18,000 organizations and over 68,000 event participants and volunteers who helped us invest $100.1 million in our mission. We couldn’t do what we do without you.

Two people wearing face masks outside looking into the distance.

2020 — A year of transformative change

2020/21 was a year that sparked change on a global scale. During this unprecedented year, 3 catalyzing forces challenged us to reflect, adapt and innovate to best serve Canadians affected by cancer:

  • our amalgamation with Prostate Cancer Canada 
  • the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • national and global movements for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion
Two people wearing face masks outside looking into the distance.

PCC logo

On the eve of World Cancer Day, we celebrated our amalgamation with Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC). This partnership is a bold and critically needed step forward within the cancer charity sector in Canada. Read the full news release.

Together, we are increasing the impact for people facing prostate cancer. In 2020/21, we continued to deliver on PCC’s mission by:

  • advancing prostate cancer research with a $3.5 million commitment to new projects in partnership with the Movember Foundation
  • calling on the Ontario and BC governments to fully fund the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test when referred by a physician so that there is equitable access to the test regardless of where a person lives in Canada
  • engaging the Advisory Council to Improve Prostate Cancer Outcomes in the Black Community to discuss strategies to raise awareness and promote early detection of prostate cancer
  • conducting fundraising campaigns in support of prostate cancer research, such as Plaid for Dad and Rock the Road Raffle
  • offering webinars about coping with prostate cancer

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world in countless ways. But it didn’t stop cancer from being a life-changing and life-threatening disease. In fact, it amplified the importance of CCS’s role in helping people affected by cancer.

To serve those in need during the pandemic, we adapted by:

Read on to learn more about how we adapted and served people facing cancer throughout the pandemic.

There are deep disparities in cancer risk, cancer care and cancer research. These inequalities have life and death consequences that can’t be ignored. In 2020, we started taking meaningful action to address these disparities and better support people affected by cancer, no matter their age, gender, identity, race, ethnicity, income, sexual orientation or location in Canada.

We took steps to contribute to a more just, equitable, diverse and inclusive world, including:

  • sharing a public statement of solidarity outlining our commitment to addressing ­­systemic racism in our organization and, more broadly, Canada’s healthcare sector.
  • forming a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Council of staff to examine CCS and shape the future of our organization through a JEDI lens.
  • launching our Research Inclusive Excellence Action Plan, which commits CCS to the integration of the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility across our research funding programs
  • using understanding gained from research and consultation about barriers to cancer information and support faced by some underserved populations in order to improve existing programs and shape future ones

We know that there is much more to do. We are committed to continually creating change through our everyday actions, our programs, advocacy and research, internal and external communications, policies, partnerships and more.

Lee and Don Baker smiling

“Before staying at the Lodge, we were worried about the dangers posed by COVID-19, but the staff followed every protocol to make us feel very comfortable and safe. The care and attention we received at the Lodge went a long way in helping a difficult time be as worry-free as possible.” 

- Lee Baker, who accompanied her husband Don during his stay at a CCS Lodge in 2020 

Lee and Don Baker smiling

Our research investment

We have a rich legacy of fueling discoveries that have improved how we prevent, diagnose, treat and help people live with and beyond cancer. With your support, in 2020/21 we invested $46.8 million in life-changing cancer research across the cancer experience and across all cancer types. This investment included:
A researcher looking into a microscope in a laboratory

Saving lives

Last year, an estimated 225,800 people in Canada were diagnosed with cancer. Your support is helping to prevent cancer, to improve treatments through life-enhancing and life-saving research, and to advocate for policies to help make healthy living easier for all people in Canada during the pandemic and beyond.

A researcher looking into a microscope in a laboratory

Thanks to you, we’re working hard to ensure fewer people get cancer and more people survive a cancer diagnosis. 

  • We invested $2.5 million in innovative research focused on cancer prevention to ensure that fewer people ever hear the words “you have cancer.” 
  • We responded to over 26,000 phone calls from people seeking help to quit smoking and transformed in-person smoking cessation programs to offer digital support.
  • Our advocacy efforts led to new regulations to restrict e-cigarette advertising, increase taxes on tobacco products and introduce a tax for e-cigarettes.
  • We called on governments to prioritize access to cancer screening and life-saving treatment for people affected by cancer during the pandemic.
  • We launched the new and improved It’s My Life!, an interactive evidence-informed cancer prevention tool that teaches users what causes cancer and how to reduce their risk.  

Dr Alexander Wyatt

Cancer doesn’t care if we’re in a pandemic or not, it marches on. We can’t forget that, and we must keep funding and supporting this research so we can continue to save and improve lives.

– Dr Alexander Wyatt, CCS-funded researcher in prostate cancer genomics

A person looking at a laptop in a kitchen

Coping with cancer

Quarantines and physical distancing measures, while necessary, isolated people with cancer from their support networks. We heard from people facing cancer and their caregivers that the pandemic compounded the stress and anxiety that can come with diagnosis and treatment. Throughout the year, we worked hard to address new needs and provide seamless support to those who relied on us. 

A person looking at a laptop in a kitchen

With your support, we helped people in Canada manage life with cancer, find community and connection and build wellness and resilience throughout the pandemic.

  • We advocated for the extension of Canada’s Employment Insurance Sickness Benefit from 15 to 26 weeks to ensure people facing cancer don’t have to choose between a paycheque and cancer treatment.  
  • We responded to over 44,000 phone calls, emails and live chat questions from Canadians seeking cancer information, resources and assistance through our Cancer Information Helpline.
  • We helped nearly 5,000 people get to and from cancer-related medical appointments through our Wheels of Hope transportation program.
  • When public health measures caused us to pause our transportation program, we partnered with Uber to continue to support transportation needs for people affected by cancer.   
  • We offered a safe and comfortable stay at our lodges for more than 3,500 people receiving cancer treatment away from home. 
  • Following a brief closure, we reopened our lodges with updated health and safety protocols to protect people with cancer, volunteers and staff.  
  • We launched live chat on our Community Services Locator and cancer.ca, offering enhanced online information and support to meet an increasing need during the pandemic.   
  • We provided a space for community and connection to over 210,000 people affected by cancer through our online community, CancerConnection.ca.  
  • We monitored and assessed the impact of the pandemic on people with cancer and their caregivers and responded to new information needs with resources specific to COVID-19, including expert-led webinars.    

Alexis Juliao and her son and daughter

Virtual programs like CancerConnection.ca are very important, if not more important, because during the pandemic there is no other option. For people with cancer who live on their own and may be feeling alone and isolated, virtual support programs allow for a sense of comfort, community and connection.

– Alexis Juliao, CancerConnection.ca community mentor who received a colon cancer diagnosis in Spring 2020

A mother and father carrying their son and daughter on their backs and smiling

Living life to the fullest

In addition to saving lives and helping people with cancer cope, we want to help them live their lives to the fullest. With your support, we found innovative ways to help people living with and beyond cancer thrive, despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
A mother and father carrying their son and daughter on their backs and smiling

Our donors enabled us to help people affected by cancer live their lives to the fullest by enhancing quality of life during and after cancer.

  • We invested $5.5 million in research focused on improving quality of life from the time of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.
  • We co-funded 7 Cancer Survivorship Team Grants for pan-Canadian teams working to improve health outcomes for cancer survivors of all ages. 
  • We hosted Camp Goodtimes at Home, a virtual camp experience that gave over 500 people – children and youth with cancer and their families – a chance to enjoy camp activities from the safety of their home.   
  • We established a virtual distribution model for wigs, headwear and breast accessories, ensuring people with cancer had safe access to items that could help them feel more confident and comfortable.
  • In partnership with the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers, we conducted a virtual Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, which provided over 1,200 people with access to important information.

Katrina Batey, her husband and their four children wearing matching blue shirts and hats

We are so grateful to CCS and its donors for making Camp Goodtimes at Home possible. I don’t think it can be overstated how valuable experiences like this are to families. It’s a safe place where any kid going through treatment can have fun and make lifelong friendships, even during the pandemic.

– Katrina Batey, a parent who attended Goodtimes at Home with her family 

Eight people, adults and children, wearing matching CIBC Run for the Cure t-shirts in front of a house

Our collective

We are a collective of people united by the goal of making a meaningful difference for people affected by cancer.

Last year brought a lot of change. But the unshakable resilience and commitment of our volunteers, donors, partners and staff remained the same. Together, we found bold new ways to fuel our mission and support those who needed us. We are deeply grateful for the support.

Eight people, adults and children, wearing matching CIBC Run for the Cure t-shirts in front of a house

Although we couldn’t gather in person during the pandemic, we redefined the volunteer experience, created safe, engaging digital events and increased our focus on online fundraising campaigns. Through these efforts, over 68,000 participants and volunteers came together to raise funds to change the future of cancer. 

  • Through Relay At Home and Relay For Life Youth, 11,700+ people helped raise $5.3 million. 
  • Through the virtual CIBC Run for the Cure, 25,000+ people helped raise $9.3 million. 
  • Through our Dry Feb campaign, 13,000+ people helped raise $900,000.
  • Through Cops for Cancer, 175 riders visited over 75 communities and helped raise $1.35 million. 
  • Through our annual Daffodil Campaign, we received donations from 25,000+ people and 500+ organizations to raise a total of $5.4 million.

Headshot of Matilda Williams-Obiajunwa

The virtual Run event reinforced my belief that like minds can do great things against all odds. I interacted with great minds whose ideas and worldviews have made a huge positive impact on me.

– Matilda Williams-Obiajunwa, virtual CIBC Run for the Cure volunteer 

Our partners

Our collective of corporate partners enabled us to be there for Canadians affected by cancer. Thank you to our generous partners:  

Our board of directors

Our collective also includes a national board of directors that are helping us fulfill our vision.

Your donations at work

Throughout the pandemic, your support has been more important than ever. Here’s how you’ve made an impact, supported people with cancer and their caregivers, funded life-saving cancer research and helped CCS advocate for important government policy changes. 

Our revenue

Our expenses

Investments in our mission

Thank you!

Thank you for being there for people affected by cancer in Canada. During a transformative year for CCS, your support has allowed us to continue to advance our mission. Together, we invested in world-class research, led transformative advocacy work and provided compassionate support to ensure no one faces cancer alone, even during the most challenging times.