taking control of cancer

Impact report

2020/2021

Title TBD

Last year was a transformative year for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – one that challenged us to think differently and find new ways to fuel our mission and support people affected by cancer in Canada.  

We began 2020/21 ready to evolve and tap into new potential as we announced our amalgamation with Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC). On the heels of a year of stability and growth, we had big plans for the year ahead. But COVID-19 threw a significant curveball. The pandemic significantly impacted the people and communities we serve and challenged how we work, fundraise, drive research and provide support. We needed to adapt quickly to meet new and urgent needs.  

Guided by our mission, we relentlessly pursued innovation. We pivoted our in-person events to be virtual, enhanced our online support system and adopted robust safety measures to protect staff, volunteers, supporters and clients. Simultaneously, we advocated to governments to prioritize the needs of people affected by cancer and we sustained research progress, delivering on all research funding commitments and continuing life-saving research work during the pandemic.  

In May, the murder of George Floyd sparked a new wave of change as global protests shone a much-needed spotlight on systemic racism. We committed to listening, learning and taking meaningful action to address systemic racism. We sought input and guidance, began closely examining who we are and how we operate, and started taking steps to become a more just, inclusive and equitable organization.  

In this report, you will read about the impact your support enabled in 2020/21. During a year like none other before, we sought creative and impactful solutions and we were there for those who needed us. We funded life-saving cancer research, advocated for transformative change and provided compassionate support to people affected by cancer.  

Thank you – we could not have achieved this without your unyielding support.  

Sincerely,  

Andrea Seale, Chief Executive Officer

Andrea Seale

Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Cancer Society

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 people and nearly 18,000 organizations who helped us raise $128.3 million for our mission. We couldn't do what we do without you.

View an accessible version of this infographic.

Infographic of the Canadian Cancer Society's impact snapshot in 2020/2021.
An older woman is looking up at someone who had placed their hand on her shoulder

2020 — A year of transformative change

2020/21 was a year like no other, sparking change on a global scale. During this unprecedented year, 3 catalyzing forces challenged us to reflect, adapt and innovate to best serve Canadians impacted by cancer: our amalgamation with Prostate Cancer Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent spotlight on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. 

An older woman is looking up at someone who had placed their hand on her shoulder

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

  • Continuing to advance prostate cancer research with a $X investment in new prostate cancer research projects
  • Calling on the Ontario and BC governments to fully fund the 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 Black Communities to discuss strategies to raise awareness and promote screening and early detection among Black communities
  • Conducting fundraising campaigns in support of prostate cancer research such as Plaid for Dad and Rock the Road Raffle
  • Offering prostate cancer support groups and webinars

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:

There are deep disparities in cancer risk, cancer care and cancer research, with life and death consequences that cannot 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 where they live.

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.
  • Expanding our Research Inclusive Excellence Action Plan to include race and other equity factors.
  • Sharing our Underserved Roadmap with staff to provide a framework from which we can better understand and focus our mission programming to underserved populations, including those who experience systemic barriers in the healthcare system.

“Donations are where it all starts, and every dollar earned can make a difference. Funds raised by the Canadian Cancer Society through the Plaid for Dad campaign will help people like me who are going through cancer.”

– Roy Lilly, a prostate cancer advocate living with advanced prostate cancer

Our research investment

We have a rich legacy of fueling discoveries that have improved how we prevent, diagnose, treat and 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:

  • $25.6 million to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • $5.8 million to enhance quality of life including survivorship and supportive care
  • $2.5 million for cancer prevention
  • $3.1 million for screening and early detection
  • $11.05 million to enable 133 active clinical trials to test new strategies to treat and prevent cancer
  • Plus investments in other important areas of cancer research.

3 generations of women.

Saving lives

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

3 generations of women.

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

  • We invested $4 million in innovative  research focused on preventing cancer, to ensure 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. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada and these interventions could help save lives.
  • Our advocacy efforts led to new regulations to restrict e-cigarette advertising, increase taxes on tobacco products and introduce a tax for e-cigarettes. These measures are an effective way to discourage tobacco and e-cigarette use in youth and reduce their risk of becoming addicted to nicotine.
  • 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, online cancer prevention tool that teaches users what causes cancer and how to reduce their risk.  

Dr. 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 critical science so we can continue to save and improve lives.”

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

Two people embracing

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.
Two people embracing

Contributed to 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 helped 4,986 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 impacted by cancer.   
  • We offered a safe and comfortable stay at our lodges for 3,545 people receiving cancer treatment away from home. 
  • Following a brief closure, we reopened our lodges with updated health and safety protocols to protect clients, volunteers and staff.  
  • We launched live chat on our Community Services Locator and on 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 191,400 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 COVID-19-specific resources, including expert-led webinars.
  • “Virtual programs like CancerConnection 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 community mentor who received a colon cancer diagnosis in Spring 2020

    A woman carrying a child on her back smiling outdoors

    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 woman carrying a child on her back smiling outdoors


    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 $5.8 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 children, youth 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, providing over x people with access to important information.

    “We are so grateful to CCS and its donors for making Camp Goodtimes at Home possible. I don’t think it can be understated 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 

    Three young Daffodil volunteers selling pins

    Our collective

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

    In the face of all the change that 2020/21 brought, one thing remained the same: the unshakable resilience and commitment of our volunteers, donors, partners and staff. Together, we found bold new ways to fuel our mission and support those who needed us. We are deeply grateful for the support.

    Three young Daffodil volunteers selling pins

    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 11,700+ people helped raise $X. 
    • Through the virtual CIBC Run for the Cure 25,000+ people helped raise $X. 
    • Through our Dry Feb campaign, 31,000+ people helped raise $X.
    • Through Cops for Cancer 175 riders helped raise $X. 
    • Through our annual Daffodil Campaign, we received donations from X people and X organizations to raise a total of $X.

    “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, cancer survivor and virtual CIBC Run for the Cure volunteer 

    Your donation at work

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

    Our generous donors helped us generate a revenue of $159.7 million through the following channels:

    • Individual and corporate donations: $108.3 million
    • Lotteries: $9.2 million
    • Government-sponsored projects and grants: $18.1 million
    • COVID-19 related government assistance: $14.9 million
    • Investment income and others: $9.3 million

    Of the $159 million we spent, we invested:

    • $100.1 million toward our mission
    • $42.1 million toward fundraising
    • $6.2 million toward our lottery
    • $10.6 million toward administration

    Thanks to our donors, of the $100.1 million we spent on our mission, we invested: 

    • $50.4 million in information, services and programs 
    • $46.8 million in research 
    • $3 million in advocacy

    Our partners

    Our collective of corporate partners enabled us to be there for Canadians impacted by cancer, even during the most challenging times. 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.

    Our stories

    Read stories about how we helped save the lives of Canadians affected by cancer, helped live their lives to the fullest and cope with cancer during the pandemic. 

    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.