Cancer can affect your finances in ways you might not expect. No, you don’t have to pay for your doctor’s time or your time in hospital. But cancer may bring new expenses to your life – child care or housekeeping costs, travel and parking at treatment, nutritional supplements, medicines and equipment. And there is a cost for time away from work. Losing income at the same time as having expenses that you haven’t planned for can add to your stress.

People who can answer questions about money and may be able to help you budget and plan include:

Your human resources department or your private insurance broker. You may have private insurance through your employer or a private insurance company. Ask about the terms and conditions of your coverage – what it will pay for and when – and how to access it.

Your bank manager or personal financial planner or advisor can help you budget your money and suggest solutions to money problems.

An accountant can tell you about expenses you can claim on your income tax return. Some of your medical costs (such as drugs, equipment and supplies) may be claimed. You may be able to claim other costs such as travelling to treatments or child care.

A social worker at your treatment centre can help you access financial assistance programs and government benefits. They can also help you fill in and submit forms.

A drug access navigator can help you find access to drug assistance programs that can help you with the costs of medicines you need during treatment.

Understand your insurance benefits

Find out more about your health insurance, if you haven’t already done so. If you have private disability insurance or insurance through your employer, get familiar with the terms and conditions of your coverage. Make sure you understand:

  • what your insurance will continue to pay for and what you will need to pay for
  • if your policy has a waiting period before disability coverage starts
  • if your policy has a yearly or lifetime cap (the maximum amount they will pay out) on benefits

Long-term disability benefits

Long-term disability (LTD) is a type of insurance that pays a percentage of your salary if you are not able to work for a long period of time or are unable to return to work at all.

If you are covered by an employer, LTD benefits may be offered after short-term disability benefits end. LTD benefits vary depending on the plan.

You will be asked to provide detailed medical information when you apply for LTD benefits. You may have several medical forms to fill in, some of which have to be completed by all of the doctors responsible for your care. A medical update may be needed at certain times, and there may be a limit to the amount of time you can draw benefits.

Government assistance programs

There may be assistance for you and your caregivers through federal or provincial programs.

Government of Canada assistance programs

The Government of Canada offers benefit programs and tax credits to reduce the amount of income tax you have to pay.

The Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefit offers temporary financial assistance (up to 15 weeks) to unemployed workers who qualify for the benefit. This includes providing sickness benefits to people unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine.

The EI Compassionate Care Benefit are 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. A maximum of 26 weeks of compassionate care benefits may be paid to eligible people.

The Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults allows eligible caregivers to receive up to 15 weeks of financial assistance to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured adult. Caregivers must be family members or someone who is considered to be like family by the person needing care or support.

The Family Caregiver Benefit for Children allows eligible caregivers to receive up to 35 weeks of financial assistance to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured child. Caregivers must be family members or someone who is considered to be like family to the child needing care or support.

The Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit provides disability benefits to people who have made enough contributions to the CPP and who are disabled and cannot work at any job on a regular basis. Benefits may also be available to your dependent children under the Canada Pension Plan children’s benefits.

The Veterans Emergency Fund (VEF) provides emergency financial support to veterans, their families and survivors whose well-being is at risk due to an urgent and unexpected situation. The emergency fund will provide short-term relief while VEF works with you to identify any long-term needs and possible solutions.

There are also non-refundable tax credits that can be applied to reduce the amount of income tax you pay to the Canadian government.

The Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC) is a non-refundable tax credit that may be available to you if you support a partner or dependant with a physical or mental impairment.

The Medical Expense Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that allows you to claim expenses for wigs, medicines, medical equipment, and medical travel expenses such as meals, hotels and parking.

Provincial government assistance programs

Most provincial governments also have benefit programs that can help pay for some of the costs of transportation and accommodation if you have to travel for cancer treatment. The benefits available will be different in each province.

You can find more about federal and provincial benefits and tax credits at

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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