Seeking medical care should not be hazardous

Northern Ontario Party extends condolances to young family who lost lives travelling

To the Expositor:

The Northern Ontario Party would like to extend their condolences to the young family who lost their lives traveling back from Sick Kids Hospital last week. This heartbreaking event is just another example of the tragedies Northerners face when seeking medical care for their children.

A number of families across Northern Ontario face similar treks; driving numerous hours down single lane highways that have no rest stops just to get their children medical care. Some Northern families do not have the option of flying down to Toronto to make these appointments, because either their community does not have an airport or the parents are trying to hold onto their jobs and are forced to drive after working 8 or 12-hour shifts.

Although Wynne and her government believe that their Travel Grant system is fair and commensurate, the sad truth is that it is not. Many Northerners have to complete heroic feats just to receive the same care that many southerners and their children take for granted.

The Northern Travel Grant will only partially cover a one-night stay at a hotel, so a parent must choose to either use it the night before or the day of the appointment.  

For example, a family from Elliot Lake would have to drive 7 hours with short breaks to get to Sick Kids. Now it is up to the family to choose whether to drive down the day before and catch a hotel to attend an early morning appointment and then head back home after spending 4 or 5 hours at the hospital. The other choice is the family can drive all night to make the same morning appointment and stay in the hotel afterward. Either way, this becomes a recipe for disaster, as this system encourages parents to drive exhausted so their child can attend an appointment.

The Northern Ontario Party believes that the Travel Grant system needs to be revamped to include a two-night hotel stay for anyone traveling more than 350 km (one way) to take a child to a medical appointment. The NOP would also like to see the creation of a Northern Ontario House, where northern families can stay free of charge when their children are attending medical appointments in Toronto.

Myles Clayton
Media and Social Media Manager
Northern Ontario Party

EDITOR’S NOTE: Health Sciences North in Sudbury is currently developing NEO Kids, a Northern children’s treatment centre designed to alleviate some of the issues referred to by the letter writer.