B.C. says $20 million from its 10-year cancer action plan will go to subsidizing the cost of travel and accommodation for patients who have to leave their home community for treatment.
The province first announced the funds alongside the launch of its action plan in February, but provided more details on Wednesday (Sept. 27).
Health Minister Adrian Dix says the $20 million will be evenly divided between the Canadian Cancer Society and Hope Air to expand travel programs they already have in place.
The Canadian Cancer Society portion will go to its Travel Treatment Fund, which gives patients grants for general travel expenses, its Wheels of Hope program, which connects patients with volunteer drivers, and its four lodges, which provide patients with accommodation and meals in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna and Prince George.
Applications for the general travel fund will be accepted retroactively to April 1, 2023.
Hope Air says its $10 million will fund ground transportation, accommodation and meal vouchers for cancer patients. The charity has also committed to providing 2,500 flights for B.C. patients by 2026.
Dix says the two organizations will work together and refer patients to each other, depending on patient needs. The charity’s expanded programs will launch on Oct. 3 and be available to patients with a household income below $150,000.
Dix says the primary intent of the new fund is to increase access for British Columbians who live in rural or remote areas, who have to travel greater distances for care. B.C.’s six cancer centres are located in Abbotsford, Kelowna, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria. The province has committed to adding another four in Kamloops, Nanaimo, Surrey and Burnaby.
The $20 million is part of $440 million the province committed to cancer care in February.