News release

Government Invests in Improved Cancer Care in Southwestern Nova Scotia

The Rankin government is investing nearly $1 million annually to enhance cancer care in Southwestern Nova Scotia.

The new funding will cover additional staff, medical supplies and other supports so patients in Yarmouth, Shelburne and Digby counties can receive more cancer care close to home.

“We are committed to providing people in Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties better access to the cancer care they need closer to where they live,” said Health and Wellness Minister Zach Churchill. “This investment will improve cancer supports and services for people in Southwestern Nova Scotia, allowing for more coordinated care, enhanced programming and more staff.”

The investment will benefit patients by:

  • improving coordination of care between Yarmouth and Halifax, resulting in fewer trips to Halifax
  • enhancing supports to navigate available drug programs
  • improving psychosocial care
  • increasing access to hematology care
  • adding more nursing, pharmacy and clerical support to meet growing demand for symptom management; systemic therapy like chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy; follow-up and survivorship

These 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.


Today is a milestone on our journey to enhancing cancer care for Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties. We want to thank government, patients and families, and all partners who contributed to this ‘made in Southwestern Nova Scotia’ solution. This new funding provides a unique opportunity to create a whole new way of providing cancer care in Yarmouth. The next phase of our work continues today with our partners. Dr. Helmut Hollenhorst, senior medical director, Nova Scotia Health’s Cancer Care Program

While the funding is important, today’s announcement is about more than money. It’s about trust, involving the people who will be most impacted by a decision, being led by facts and expert input, and the wise decisions that result when we work together. I wish Dr. Hollenhorst, the cancer care team and partners every success in the next phase of this important work. Dr. Drew Bethune, former senior medical director, Nova Scotia Health’s Cancer Care Program

It has been a privilege to share my perspective on how best to enhance cancer care for our area. Having worked in health care, I was aware of gaps in our health-care system. As a patient living in a rural area, I experienced those gaps first-hand. Traveling long distances for care when you’re not well, lack of coordination of care resulting in more travel than necessary and lack of psychosocial support adds to the burden of the disease. The new positions possible with this additional funding will result in people with cancer feeling more supported and informed and ensure an easier journey for patients and families living in Southwestern Nova Scotia. Maria Marshall, cancer survivor and member of the Yarmouth and Area Cancer Care Steering Committee

Quick Facts:

  • government will invest $953,800 annually to hire new staff, including a pharmacist, pharmacy practice assistants, registered nurses, a nurse practitioner, a social worker, a psychologist, a clinical nurse educator and a registration and booking clerk
  • Nova Scotia Health Authority is finalizing some position descriptions and will soon begin recruitment
  • about 360 patients in Southwestern Nova Scotia received cancer treatment at Yarmouth Regional Hospital last year
  • an estimated 230 patients will benefit from reduced travel to Halifax


Media Contact:

Marla MacInnis
Cell: 902-499-6428 Email: