Increasing access to financial resources for breast cancer patients in Canada

CBCN Canada Board
Information and support gap


According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN), 90% of breast cancer patients in Canada experience a significant financial impact as a result of their breast cancer diagnosis. This is due to the fact that some costs are not covered by the healthcare system. Out-of-pocket expenses can include drugs, medical equipment, childcare, transportation, hotels, meals, parking, vehicle repairs and fuel. Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients are vulnerable to these financial burdens. To address this challenge and improve access to financial resources for breast cancer patients in Canada, CBCN has developed an online financial resources navigation tool.

CBCN is a key breast cancer health charity in Canada that aims to ensure optimal care for patients through education, advocacy and information sharing. Its website receives over 125,000 visits per year, which allows CBCN to have a wide reach through digital tools and resources.

“The Financial Navigator tool has allowed breast cancer patients from across Canada to better understand what financial support is accessible to them as they navigate a very difficult time in their life. Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is challenging enough without having to worry about the financial impact of this disease. This patient-friendly tool connects patients with programs and services that they need and allows them to quickly understand which ones they may qualify for.”
CBCN Canada Quote
Cathy Ammendolea, Board Chair

Project description

CBCN Canada Poster

As a result of a SPARC MBC Challenge grant awarded in 2017, CBCN has developed a novel tool to help breast cancer patients across Canada locate financial resources for the expenses they incur due to the disease.

In order to develop the online tool centralising this information for patients, the project’s main milestones were:

  • Identifying all existing financial aid programmes and investigating their eligibility criteria for breast cancer patients
  • Developing a database of financial aid programmes with a patient-friendly interface to facilitate  searches
  • Translating the interface into French to create a bilingual French/English resource
  • Launching and promoting the Financial Navigator tool through CBCN’s network, on social media, and through conferences.


CBCN Canada J.Gordon

Through this project, CBCN created a comprehensive database of all financial resources available to breast cancer patients in Canada. Previously, in order to locate relevant information, patients and caregivers would search online, or ask at cancer centres or via social workers, whereas now this information has been consolidated into a patient-friendly database that is available in both French and English. Moreover, the Financial Navigator tool allows patients to refine their search results according to geographical region, age, financial situation, and stage of breast cancer.

In addition to searching the database, patients can also use the Financial Navigator tool to find information and links to resources on how to plan for the consequences of a cancer diagnosis. Many relevant topics are addressed, such as end-of-life care planning, health insurance and Medicare coverage, travel, taxes and the impact of a diagnosis on careers or education.

Since its launch in January 2019, 2,751 users have used the Financial Navigator database, and as such have been able to rapidly request and access assistance with ease to help offset the financial impact of a breast cancer diagnosis.


(Information from the project description and context is compiled from the SPARC reports)

Last update

Friday 03 February 2023

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