United Way Northwest Alberta has handed over $67,000 in grant funding to the Alberta Cancer Foundation to help patients in Grande Prairie and Peace River receive financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACF Fund Development North Director Kim Falconer says they wanted to ensure social workers were equipped with all the right supports to help those undergoing a cancer diagnosis. She adds the funding will go a long way for those who may already be facing external stress.

“We wanted to be as diverse as possible to ensure their food security needs, transportation, and shelter, as some of the virtual services we can provide,” she says. “If they’re not able to travel, we wanted to ensure they could also receive support virtually from social workers or other forms of counselling and care that can be provided to help them deal with a diagnosis in addition to the pandemic stresses put on them at this time.”

Falconer says, as partners of Alberta Health Services, they appreciate the additional challenges they have risen to in order to provide care for patients not only exposed to COVID-19, but also those undergoing a multitude of other health conditions. She adds, like COVID-19, cancer doesn’t discriminate and the funding will not only relieve some of the burdens on patients but health workers as well.

“This can also mean the difference for an individual who has lost benefits, or employment, and some of the services they used to be able to access may be more of a challenge for them to afford.”

The United Way Alberta Northwest COVID-19 Emergency Community Support Fund will spread $435,000 through an area of roughly one-quarter of Alberta, from Grande Cache to the Northwest Territories border and from Slave Lake to the B.C. border.