Improved cancer care for Nova Scotians

The Rankin government is providing $18 million in ongoing investments in cancer care, including funding for a particular cancer therapy and support for travel and accommodation for patients needing it.

“We are committed to providing Nova Scotians with the cancer care and support they need, closer to home,” said Health and Wellness Minister Zach Churchill. “These changes add another treatment option not previously available in Nova Scotia and will expand eligibility and ensure patients pay less for travel, accommodations, supplies and cancer drugs.”

Over the next three years, the government will invest $11.1 million to reduce out-of-pocket costs for travel, accommodations, ostomy supplies and cancer drugs.

The provincial government is also investing $225,000 in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Susan K. Roberts Lodge That Gives, which provides free accommodations for people who live outside of Halifax while they undergo cancer treatment. The Lodge supports the complex and unique needs of patients receiving cancer treatment.

The province is also providing $6.7 million annually to offer chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapy, a type of treatment for patients with some types of lymphoma, making Nova Scotia the only province in Atlantic Canada to do so. Until now, eligible adult patients have had to travel to Boston and remain there for an extended period of time to access CAR T treatment.

The investment will:

  • establish a CAR T treatment program in Nova Scotia, giving eligible adult lymphoma patients the ability to receive this treatment much closer to home
  • increase the household income threshold for the existing Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy and Drug Assistance for Cancer Patients programs from $25,500 to $35,000
  • increase the travel rate in the Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy program from $0.20/km to $0.45/km when using personal vehicles

The travel, accommodations, ostomy supplies and cancer drug enhancements are a result of a 2018 review of cancer services in Yarmouth. The review included significant input from physicians, staff, patients, community members and others. It recommended developing a suite of services to better support patients who may need specialty cancer services and treatment.


Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas are the fifth most common cancers in Canada. Advances in treatment options can cure up to two-thirds of patients. However, in cases where the cancer returns, treatment options are limited, and patients survive a median of only about six months. Having access to CAR T, a potentially life-saving type of personalized medicine, in Nova Scotia will be a tremendous benefit to those adult patients who would otherwise have faced great expense and disruption of their lives to receive this treatment in the United States. – Dr. Helmut Hollenhorst, senior medical director, Nova Scotia Health’s Cancer Care Program

The Susan K Roberts Lodge That Gives is so much more than just a place for Nova Scotians to stay while undergoing cancer treatment in Halifax. It’s a home-away-from-home that offers wrap-around supports to people with cancer at a time when they need it most. The Government of Nova Scotia’s generous support of and investment in the Lodge allows us to continue offering specialized cancer support that rural Nova Scotians have come to rely on. We know that in partnership, we can have a meaningful impact on the lives of people living with cancer. – Jane Parsons, executive vice president, Revenue Development, Canadian Cancer Society

Quick Facts:

  • chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapy is a potentially curative method of immunotherapy that modifies a patient’s immune cells (T cells) to help them recognize and fight the patient’s cancer for the rest of their lives
  • the Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy program helps cancer patients with costs related to transportation, accommodation, and ostomy supplies
  • the Drug Assistance for Cancer Patients program is a provincial drug insurance plan that helps low-income Nova Scotians without drug coverage with the cost of certain cancer-related drugs and supplies
  • government recently announced $1 million annually for additional staff, medical supplies and other supports so patients in Southwestern Nova Scotia can receive more cancer care closer to home