Cancer survivors income falls $5K a year, StatsCan finds

Not surprising, and mirrors my experience, although I benefitted from good government employee benefits that helped those with catastrophic illness (the government planning to roll these back).

While in the end, my particularly aggressive form of cancer made returning to work a non-starter, most people following cancer diagnosis and treatment of any kind also tend to shift their priorities towards family and friends, with career advancement becoming secondary.

While I wouldn’t go so far as the Canadian Cancer Society – we often make choices between income and other priorities – there is need to examine whether we have the right balance between benefits for those with catastrophic illness and the overall cost to governments and employers:

On average, cancer survivors earned $5,079, or 12.1 per cent, less one year after diagnosis than their counterparts who were never diagnosed with the disease. Cancer lowered the probability of working in the first year after diagnosis by three percentage points on average compared with the other group in the sample.

The effects continued but lessened in the second and third years after diagnosis.

Employees may work fewer hours after cancer treatment as they recover. Others may switch jobs to something less stressful and perhaps lower paying.

“We find cancer patients are forced into situations where they have to choose between their treatment or their income, and thats not acceptable,” said Lauren Dobson-Hughes of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The society would like to see an increase in sickness benefits beyond 15 weeks and an increase in the amount thats provided beyond 55 per cent of salary. Theres also currently a two-week waiting period for EI, which Dobson-Hughes said isnt sustainable for many patients.

Cancer survivors income falls $5K a year, StatsCan finds – Health – CBC News.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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