09/11/2013 06:39 EDT | Updated 11/11/2013 05:12 EST

Canadian Cancer Society's Ont. branch to start charging for treatment transport

TORONTO - The Ontario branch of the Canadian Cancer Society says it will start charging patients a one-time fee to transport them to cancer treatment.

The charity says new patients who sign up after Oct. 1 for transportation will have to pay $100 for a service that has previously been free.

It says the price of gas and other transportation costs have jumped in recent years while the number of passengers has also increased, making the fee necessary to keep the patient-ride program going.

The charity says the charge won't apply to those already registered for the program.

Transportation manager Tanya Nixon says the number of patients needing a lift to cancer care grew nearly 20 per cent in a single year.

But Sheila Smith of the Cancer Assistance Services of Halton Hills — a group launched after the cancer society cut service there — says the move will only further add to the stress cancer patients face.

Nixon said the door-to-treatment service is strained and needs the fee money.

"This was a difficult but necessary decision to ensure the future of our transportation service so that we can continue to help cancer patients get to treatment," she said in a release.