The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) is offering fuel and parking reimbursements for cancer care travel in response to ongoing concerns related to medical transportation.
Through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) mandate, the MN-S has been meeting with Métis communities and citizens in health and well-being engagement sessions.
According to Health Minister Marg Friesen, one of the main barriers to timely cancer treatment is a lack of transportation to large urban centres.
After the closure of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) in May of 2017, she said, citizens have been stressed with financial barriers to pay for travel or finding a way to get to their appointments in the first place.
They’re often left relying on friends, neighbours, or anyone travelling to the city for a ride.
“That’s a great concern for the Métis Nation in this ministry as to people who are either not attending their appointment because they don’t have a means to get to their appointment or they do not have the funds to hire somebody to get to the appointment,” explained Friesen.
In turn, she said, missing appointments will complicate your treatment plan, impact your length of life and affect your overall health and well-being.
A lot of the concerns are related to the closure of STC, she said. The Government of Saskatchewan has faced several critiques in response to shuttering its provincial bus company, one being that it leaves some patients with no way to get to appointments.
“It created a great deal of concern when there wasn’t an alternative,” said Friesen.
“The cuts to transportation has a great impact on Métis citizens and families and people who relied on that service.”
To be eligible for the transportation pilot program, you must:
- Live in Saskatchewan
- Be a registered Métis citizen of MN-S
- If under 18, be accompanied by a guardian
- Be in need of transportation to and from cancer-related appointments
- Have access to an operational vehicle
- Have a driver with a valid driver’s licence, such as family or friends, to and from appointments
- Provide appointment confirmation with the cancer clinic
There is no limit to the reimbursements, and the program will be in place until the CPAC mandate’s completion in 2022. Friesen said the ministry will be evaluating the program’s outcome.
Costs associated with accommodations while travelling for cancer treatment are not eligible for reimbursement.