April 19, 2023
Northern Ontarians need help with health travel costs
France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt spoke in the legislature this morning about the need for better funding to support Northern Ontarians who have to travel long distances to access healthcare.
“Speaker, the Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG) was set up to ease the financial burden of Northerners having to travel down South for medical reasons. As it currently exists, the NHTG is leaving many Northern patients in vulnerable situations, unable to access the care they need.
You see Speaker, a patient needs to have the money upfront to travel to see a specialist and then weeks or months later they get reimbursed. Many low-income patients cannot afford those upfront costs, and so for them the door to treatment is closed shut.
The Minister knows that there is a barrier to care. So she gave me a list of 17 agencies in Nickel Belt who the Minister says provide upfront funding for those in need. My OLIP intern Sophie called each of those organizations. If you are a member of a First Nation, currently on Ontario Work or Ontario Disability Support Program, or a child registered with Easter Seals, you can get a bit of help. But for most people there is no help available.
Minister, this is wrong, people should not have to come to see me, desperate for care, but unable to pay for their bus ticket to Toronto. It’s clear Ontario needs an emergency fund, available to the people in the North facing these circumstances; because what we have now, does not work! ”