Cancer patients in the Red Lake district who need to travel for treatment will not be affected by the new $100 fee imposed by the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).
“Our transportation program for Red Lake is air. It’s our public transportation program and it is covered by the Northern Health Travel Grant,” says CCS Regional Director, Barbara Spencer. “The program is only affecting those who are travelling the shorter distances and are not covered by the Northern Health Travel Grant.”
Spencer explains the grant covers anyone who must travel 100 km or more for treatment and says the new fee will really only affect northwestern Ontario patients who reside in the Thunder Bay area.
The CCS says the growing demand for the service along with rising costs are the reasons for the new fee.
“The Canadian Cancer Society is committed to providing transportation but the service is expensive – we spend more than $6 million a year on the program and we’ve seen almost a 20% increase in the number of patients needing rides in one year alone,” says Tanya Nixon, Senior Manager, Transportation, Canadian Cancer Society. “This was a difficult but necessary decision to ensure the future of our transportation service so that we can continue to help cancer patients get to treatment.”
“More people than ever need our transportation service,” she added. “In addition, we are challenged by an environment in which resources have become scarce both in terms of fundraising and volunteer recruitment. Like all charities, we must make our dollars go further.”
Since the 1950s, the CCS has provided free transportation for cancer patients who have no other way of getting to their treatments. The new one-time $100 fee will apply to patients signing up for the CCS transportation service as of Oct. 1. New patients who face financial challenges may qualify for the CCS compassionate program.