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Transportation & Lodging

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What to think about when traveling for cancer treatment


When you need to travel out of area for cancer treatment appointments it can be very costly. Here are some things to consider if you are having trouble affording the costs:

  • If you are already receiving Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation benefits, you may be eligible for a Special Transportation Subsidy or other subsidies to help with travel costs. 
  • If you are First Nations or a veteran talk with your band office and/or First Nations Health Authority or Veterans Affairs to enquire about medical travel benefits.
  • Keep your receipts for out of town medical travel, you might be able to claim them on your income tax return. 
  • If you are employed, you may have an extended health benefits plan through your employer, or other private insurance coverage keep your receipts and review you plan.
  • If you have low income you may qualify for Canadian Cancer Society, Travel Treatment Fund, or other non-profit financial assistance fund (see Financial Assistance).

Canadian Cancer Society, Travel Treatment Fund 

If you have limited finances and no other options are available to you, the Canadian Cancer Society, Financial Support Program may be available to you. It may help you with some of your travel and accommodations costs to attend your treatment appointments. You can print the application from the website or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation  

Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation provides a low cost bus pass to eligible low-income earners.  Clients can request an application online to their website. The cost is the same no matter when you apply during the year.  

  • Specialized Transportation Subsidy: 

People receiving income assistance through the Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation may apply for a Specialized Transportation Subsidy through their worker. This will enable clients to access transportation costs in lieu of the use of a bus pass.

BC Health Connections

BC Health Connections provides options for transportation to medical appointments. There are several programs that are available to your in your area. 
BC Ferries provides assistance for people with disabilities, assured loading cards and is a part of the TAP programs (see below).  See their website for details

Transportation Assistance Program (TAP)

The TAP program through the Ministry of Health offers travel discounts to eligible BC residents who must travel for non-emergency medical appointment not available in their own community and whose travel expenses are not covered by third party insurance or other government programs.

To be eligible, you must be a BC resident and enrolled in the MSP; you must have a physician’s referral for medical services that are not available locally, escorts are also eligible if traveling with those incapable of independent travel. TAP forms are available from your family doctor, specialist’s office, or a cancer centre. Phone: (604) 683-7151 (Vancouver) Alternate Phone:1 800 663-7100 (Elsewhere in BC)

Extended Medical Benefits

Individuals (and spouses if required as medical escort) may be eligible for assistance with treatment travel costs through their private extended health benefit plans.

Fuel Tax Rebate for Persons with Disabilities 

If you have been certified by a qualified medical practitioner as experiencing a permanent impairment of mobility to such an extent that the use of public transportation would be hazardous you may quality for this rebate if you own or lease a vehicle. 

Vehicle Insurance Discounts 

People who are the registered vehicle owner (or if you lease the vehicle), have a permanent disability and are considered handicapped under the Motor Fuel Tax Act, may be eligible for a 25% discount on basic Autoplan. Applicant must have a Motor Fuel Tax claim number when applying for insurance discount.  Limit of $400 per year could be claimed. Call the Consumer Taxation in Vancouver call 604-660-4524 or toll free 1-877-388-4440

Parking Permits for People With Disabilities 

Handicap parking signs allowing people with disabilities to use designated accessible parking spaces are available in most parking facilities. Permits are available to people with permanent or temporary disabilities that impair mobility and organizations that provide transportation to persons with mobility impairments. Refer to issuer for application and process.

If you need a permit for Greater Vancouver, Victoria & Prince George:
Apply Online: Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC) 
For temporary, permanent or organization permit cost is $15. Visitor permits are $25. A refund of $10 is issued upon return of permit. 
Phone: 604-718-7744

If you need a permit for the BC Interior, apply in person at the City of Kelowna, Revenue Branch. Permanent (3yrs) and Temporary (1 yr) permits are available the cost is $10 plus taxes. Permits must be returned to Revenue Branch,1435 Water Street, Kelowna. Call 250-469-8757

Other Transportation-related Programs

  • TREO operates the toll bridges in the Greater Vancouver area and have made allowance for exemptions for people who receive a Disability pension. See their website for details and application process. 
  • Hope Air is a non-profit organization that helps low-income earners with the cost of flights for those who need to travel out of area for medical appointments. See their website for details and application process.  
  • Airlines often have services for people flying and who have special requirements including the need for a companion when traveling. Contact the airline for information.


Canadian Cancer Society Lodges

Cancer lodges run by the Canadian Cancer Society provide lodging for out of town patients and their families, who need to be close to a Cancer Centre for treatment or tests.  You must be independent in your daily living activities and/or have an escort to assist you. You can contact the Lodges directly to find out more or to register. 

  • Jean C. Barber Vancouver Lodge, 575 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4C3 Phone: 604-879-9131
  • Vancouver Island Lodge, 2202 Richmond Ave. Victoria, BC. V8R 4R5 Phone: 250-592-2662
  • Southern Interior Rotary Lodge, 2251 Abbott Street Kelowna, BC. V1Y1E2 Phone: 250-712-2203
  • Centre for the North, Kordyban Lodge, Prince George, BC. Phone: 250-562-3535

Medical Travel Accommodation Listings

For more information about hotels, motels and inns close to your local cancer centre, refer to  Medical Travel Accommodation Listing. Put in the name of the city where you want to stay and you will receive a list of available accommodation. When you book a room, don't forget to request a medical rate.

Call your cancer centre Patient & Family Counselling Services they may have a list of alternate lodging options.

SOURCE: Transportation & Lodging ( )
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