Cancer care in Canada

One in every two Canadians is expected to develop some type of cancer during their lifetime, with one in four expected to die from their disease.

In 2017, 206,300 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer and 80,800 died from cancer. That is equivalent to 221 Canadians dying from some type of cancer every day.1

The economic burden of cancer care on all payers in Canada is substantial. The cost of cancer care in Canada has risen steadily from $2.9 billion in 2005 to $7.5 billion in 2012, mostly owing to the increase in costs of hospital-based care.2 With the growing burden of cancer, and the resultant financial pressures on our healthcare systems, there is an urgent need to improve efficiencies and reduce waste in cancer care in Canada. Improving efficiency is not a question of linear cost-cutting, but of finding ways to allocate resources more efficiently to achieve better health outcomes for patients.

Although some areas of healthcare in Canada are publicly funded in whole or in part, cancer patients – particularly those in rural areas and/or with limited access to financial resources – often experience high out-of-pocket health costs due to travel, missed work, and uninsured or underinsured drug expenditures. Alternatively, they forgo necessary treatments because they cannot afford them, with dire health consequences.

All.Can Canada initiative

In April 2018, Save Your Skin Foundation (SYSF), a national patient-led not-for-profit group dedicated to leading the fight against non-melanoma skin cancers, melanoma and ocular melanoma, was established as All.Can Canada’s Secretariat to lead the initiative in Canada. SYSF convened a Working Group to discuss how to bring All.Can into the Canadian healthcare space. The Working Group has begun a year one discovery phase, to gather and collate information from various sources and from perspectives of all healthcare stakeholders, with the goal of identifying inefficiencies and waste in cancer care across Canada.

Multi-stakeholder meetings are planned for 2019 to build consensus on priorities, to develop strategies, and to create a multi-year work plan to tackle these inefficiencies. An All.Can Canada Steering Committee will be assembled from interested stakeholders to support, guide and oversee the progress of the multi-year project.

Activities and milestones

• Development and implementation of a survey to evaluate the perspectives of stakeholders – including patient representative groups, physicians, pharmaceutical industry, and health technology assessment groups – on the greatest areas of waste and inefficiency in cancer care in Canada.
• Establishment of an evidence base of patient insights gained from people’s personal experience, to identify opportunities to reallocate resources to improve patient health outcomes and value of care.
• External advisory meeting with senior health policy experts from across Canada to discuss issues related to access to innovative therapies and the prioritisation of cancer funding within the health system.


  1. Canadian Cancer Society Available here: [accessed: September 2018]
  2. Claire de Oliveira, MA, PhD*, Sharada Weir, MA, DPhil et al. The economic burden of cancer care in Canada: a population-based cost study. CMAJ Available here: [accessed: September 2018]

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Secretariat: Save Your Skin Foundation

Working group

Kathy Barnard

Save Your Skin Foundation

Natalie Richardson

Save Your Skin Foundation

Amy Jones

Save Your Skin Foundation

Louise Binder

Save Your Skin Foundation

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The All.Can initiative is made up of leading representatives of patient organisations, policymakers, healthcare professionals, science and industry. All the publications produced under the initiative reflect the consensus of All.Can members who have full editorial control.

The All.Can initiative in Canada is made possible with financial support from Bristol Myers Squibb Canada, Merck Canada, and Janssen Canada. None of the content developed in discussions and activities of the All.Can initiative contains direct or indirect references to specific medicinal products or therapies. Use of content from this website is permitted provided that the source of information is clearly mentioned.