02/13/2013 04:06 EST | Updated 04/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Regina family needs help to pay for child's ambulance rides; province says no

REGINA - A Regina mother wants the Saskatchewan government to pay part of the $5,000 in ambulance fees for her chronically ill daughter.

But the province says there's no program in place to cover that kind of cost.

Sara-Bucsis Gunn's seven-year-old daughter, Leandra, was born with a congenital virus that can cause mental and physical disabilities.

It also increases the chances of a serious disease because it weakens the immune system.

Gunn says she'd like to see a program for middle-class families that would partially reimburse ambulance fees for kids.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan says such programs exist for seniors and low-income earners, but he isn't considering anything for families like the Gunns.

“I wouldn’t say that those are cases that are raised too often, certainly not to my office," he said. "I don’t think the inquiries or demands for that type of service have been raised by many people.”

It would be difficult to implement a uniform program since everyone's circumstances differ, he added.

Duncan outlined how provincial funding for ambulance services has actually increased by 30 per cent in the last five years and patients only pay for a small fraction of an ambulance ride.

Gunn points out that an ambulance ride in Regina costs $325 a trip, plus the possibility of an extra $2.30 per kilometre. The cost is on top of a couple of thousand dollars a year for several machines Leandra needs along with other expenses.

“A lot of extra expenses and then on top of that you get a bill for over $300. It’s kind a kick to the teeth,” Gunn said.

“It’s scary to think would I put my child in a circumstance where we maybe need an ambulance but I can’t afford it? How many other families are out there that have kids with medical issues (where) ... the bills add up.”

Gunn's family doesn't qualify for any aid programs and extra health insurance only goes a short way in paying for the overall costs of Leandra's condition.

“I really feel like there’s a lack of compassion from the government as far as these circumstances and I think it needs to be looked at and addressed.

"I’d really love to see our government step it up.”