Canadian Cancer Society takes steps to protect future of Ontario transportation service

10 September 2013

Toronto -

Getting a ride to treatment is crucial for many cancer patients

To meet the challenge of growing demand and rising costs, the Canadian Cancer Society will begin charging a $100 registration fee for new patients in Ontario who register with the Society’s transportation service after October 1.

Since the 1950s, the Society has provided transportation to patients in Ontario who have no other way of getting to cancer treatment. The one-time registration fee will apply to new patients only and will help ensure the Society is able to continue helping patients with rides.

The decision was made based on the changing landscape of cancer. Ontario’s population is growing and aging, which means that the number of new cancer cases continues to rise and with it, the number of patients needing help to get to treatment. The price of gas and other costs have risen significantly over the years while the need for transportation grows.

“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,” says Nixon. “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.”

John Buchan of Penetanguishene is a volunteer driver who has been driving patients from all over Simcoe County to and from appointments in Toronto, Barrie, Orillia and elsewhere for 10 years.

“Cancer patients and their families are already dealing with a lot of stress without worrying how they’re going to get to and from their treatments. As a driver, I know how vital this program is for helping patients who have no other way to get to appointments,” says Buchan, who is also a member of the Society’s provincial Transportation Steering Committee. “I support this registration fee because it means we’ll be able to continue helping cancer patients with rides now and in the future.”

The transportation service is offered province-wide and meets the needs of all kinds of patients who have any type of cancer and a range of treatment needs of varying duration. Some patients have no access to public transit and no other means of getting to treatment and many find the cost of alternative transportation, such as taxis, and parking prohibitive. Typically, a registered patient uses the Society’s transportation service 10 to 17 times on one way trips during the course of their treatment.

New patients who may face financial hardship may be eligible for assistance through our compassionate program. The Society is committed to ensuring that no patient is denied a ride due to their inability to pay the entire registration fee.

Last year volunteer drivers helped 15,500 patients in Ontario and drove more than 12 million kilometres, a distance that is equivalent to driving around the world almost 300 times.

For more information about the change to the transportation program, visit Frequently Asked Questions on cancer.ca

About the Canadian Cancer Society
For 75 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY: 1-866-786-3934).

For more information, please contact:

Justin Edmonstone

Public Affairs

Canadian Cancer Society

Ontario Division

Phone: 416-323-7026