Prince Edward Island Cancer Services Volunteer Driving Project says $25 driver's abstract fee waived
© Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt
Paul Aitken, president and regional director of the P.E.I. Cancer Services Volunteer Driving Project, shows his pleasure at the commitment he received from the provincial government to waive the $25 driver’s abstract fee for volunteers with the project.
Islanders who volunteer driving cancer patients to and from their appointments will now be able to register to do so for free.
The P.E.I. Cancer Services Volunteer Driving Project got a commitment from the provincial government late last week that will see the fee for a driver’s abstract waived for this initiative.
Paul Aitken, president and regional director of the driving project, said while the driver’s abstract doesn’t cost a lot of money, waiving the $25 fee removes a barrier for anyone who may be thinking about volunteering for this program.
“With that fee waived, it’s great. It’s just one less thing our volunteers have to worry about,” Aitken said.
The P.E.I. Cancer Services Volunteer Driving Project has been around for about 12 years, helping Islanders undergoing cancer treatment to get safely to and from their appointments.
Some patients may be low-income and not have access to a vehicle, while others may simply not have a family member or friend available to transport them.
After receiving a round of treatment, many patients are physically exhausted and unable to drive themselves.
“I just don’t want to see anybody not receive any of their treatments just because they don’t have a drive. That’s not right,” Aitken said.
Unfortunately for some, this is an awful reality.
“I have had patients tell me directly that they were going to stop their treatments because they didn’t have a drive because there was no way that they could get to their Charlottetown treatment. And I said,
‘No. That’s not going to happen’.”
Some patients need to go as far as Moncton or Halifax for treatment. In all cases, the volunteer drivers absorb the costs of the transportation.
That’s why this financial relief at the outset for the driver’s abstract is an important one in attracting new volunteers, Aitken said.
“This is quite a good day and we appreciate all the help that everyone has offered us.”
The volunteer driving project currently has over 80 volunteers across the province.
Despite poor roads from the recent snowstorms, volunteer drivers have continued to ferry their charges to their appointments.
“This group of local heroes deserves our gratitude, both for their safe driving in less-than-ideal conditions and for their selflessness in caring for their fellow Islanders,” said Transportation Minister Robert Vessey.
In addition, the project provides free gas cards to help Islanders get to their own treatments and to
volunteer drivers who need to offset the cost of their gas.
Thanks entirely to donations from groups and individuals, $1,200 in gas cards have been distributed since May of 2013.