Common sense has won out in the battle to rid P.E.I. of driver abstract fees for volunteers shuttling cancer patients to and from their appointments and treatments.
If there was someone out there looking for a way to dissuade potential volunteers from donating their time, money and energy, a fee like the $25 charged to those who want to do a little good in their community by helping cancer patients overcome transportation obstacles, such a fee would be just the way to go about it.
While we applaud the decision to abandon the practice, we wonder how many potential drivers were scared off by the fee? Admittedly $25 is not a lot, but for anyone thinking about helping out, it would be a sure sign of a hassle and perhaps just enough of a reason to back away, regardless of one’s good intentions.
Regardless, it’s not an issue any longer as the P.E.I. Cancer Services Volunteer Driving Project received a commitment from the provincial government last week that will see the fee for a driver’s abstract waived for the initiative.
Paul Aitken is president and regional director of the driving project. He said the $25 fee removes an unnecessary barrier.
“It’s just one less thing our volunteers have to worry about,” he said.
The P.E.I. Cancer Services Volunteer Driving Project has been around for about 12 years. Some patients may be low-income and not have access to a vehicle; others may not have a family member or friend available to take them. After receiving a round of treatment, many patients are physically exhausted and unable to drive themselves.
Aitken said he is involved because he doesn’t want to see anybody miss treatments because they don’t have a drive. He said for some no drive means no treatment; an almost inconceivable reality.
Some patients need to go as far as Moncton or Halifax for treatment.
Making financial relief at the outset is an important tool in attracting new volunteers.
The volunteer driving project currently has more than 80 volunteers across the province.
The project also provides free gas cards to help those who do have their own transportation get to their treatments and to the volunteer drivers who need to offset the costs.
About $1,200 in gas cards have been distributed since May of 2013, made possible entirely because of the generosity of others who donate to the cause.
There are very few of us who haven’t in one way or another been touched by cancer.
For people who give so much, this is the very least we as Island taxpayers could do to help.