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'I can't afford to go': Sask. dialysis patient says rising fuel has him feeling a financial pinch


Three times a week Erick Zabos drives from his home near Gronlid to Tisdale Hospital for his dialysis treatment. Since gas rose in price in March he estimates he’s spending an extra $50 a week.

“As the price of fuel keeps going up, I'm struggling to find ways to get there,” said Erick Zabos.

Zabos has done the 125 kilometres round trip for three years.

Adding to his struggles is the price of his renal diet – which emphasizes the importance of consuming high-quality protein and usually limiting fluids. It's something Zabos says has been impacted by inflation.

“I can't afford to miss dialysis. I'm getting to the point where I can't afford to go,” said Zabos.

According to the executive director of the Saskatchewan branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, this is an issue many people face in the province.

“Traveling to get to in-center hemodialysis treatments is a challenge in Saskatchewan and everywhere in the country,” said Joyce Van Deurzen.

“It's a common problem in the province and certainly across the country. As we can imagine in a country like Canada, with all the geographic reasons we've got and that dispersed population in some of the more remote areas, it's very, very challenging.”

The treatments themselves take four to five hours. According to Van Deurzen hundreds of people need dialysis in the province.

“It's one of the biggest burdens and complications of getting treatment for kidney disease,” said Van Deurzen.

As transportation is a challenge many people face in the province, the Kidney Foundation wants to see as much support provided to patients as possible.

“The more that we can do to help people, government assistance, looking at what the possibilities might be, and community assistance. The community has to come together to really support people,” said Van Deurzen.

Support can’t come soon enough for Zabos, since fuel is set to increase on April 1st due to a rise in the carbon tax, according to Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy.

“It's hard to enjoy life on a machine, let alone worry about where you're going to get your next tank full of fuel.”

The Ministry of Social Services said when a patient needs dialysis they first consider home-based treatment.

“If home-based treatment is not an appropriate option, treatment would occur in a closer-to-home satellite hospital,” a statement emailed to CTV News said.

They suggested the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability and Saskatchewan Income Support programs may provide travel benefits for individuals. Top Stories

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