Rising gas prices hurting group that helps cancer patients
CTV News Vancouver
Published Friday, May 3, 2019 5:19PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, May 3, 2019 6:38PM PDT
Rising gas prices have taken a toll on drivers across B.C., and an organization that helps those with cancer get to their medical appointments across the Lower Mainland says the cost of fuel is now affecting its ability to help patients.
Gas prices climbed to 171.9 cents per litre in some parts of the region Friday and volunteers with the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society say they're feeling the pinch.
"We have a lot of patients who are are seniors. They’re frail, they’re sick, they need help, they need the ride and they need the compassion our drivers provide them," said George Garrett, the vice-president of the society.
The society helps drive patients from across Metro Vancouver to and from cancer-related medical appointments, waiting for the patients throughout their appointment and bringing them back home.
He says the group has 200 drivers, with 10 dispatchers and operates without any government funding.
The group has been forced to raise the amount they pay drivers for gas costs from 44 cents per kilometre to 48.
Drivers say they're very aware of the effect rising gas prices have had on their volunteering.
"Every time it goes up a cent we pay a lot more money. Right now, 93 per cent of our funds go back to our drivers," said George McAffer, a driver for the past three years. "Our drivers donate back about $55,000 of that a year which is pretty significant."
McAfeer says he's enjoyed getting to know the different patients.
"That's a real great part of driving," he said. "The patients are just fantastic. Ninety-eight per cent of them are so upbeat, it's unbelievable."
But the long-term effect has Garrett and other organizers worried.
"We can handle a few months, then we’ll have to scramble for some more. I’m trying to think long-term, what are we going to do five, ten years from now."
For patients who use the service, they say it means everything to them..
"You can feel the love," said Carrie Copeland, who is undergoing chemotherapy. "It comes from their heart."
If you are interested in getting involved or donating, you can contact the group at www.volunteercancerdrivers.ca.
With a report from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim