QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan Judith Monteith-Farrell introduced a bill in the Ontario legislature on November 19 that would ensure the Northern Health Travel Grant is reviewed and improved and that Northern Ontario residents would get the support they need to access healthcare.
The Northern Health Travel Grant Advisory Committee Act would see the establishment of an advisory committee to consult with Northern families and health care workers. The committee would submit recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on how to fix the problematic program.
“People across Northern Ontario have been clear that the Northern Health Travel Grant isn’t working for them and that there are serious problems with it,” Ms. Monteith-Farrell said in a release.
“That the current travel grant program expects low-income families and seniors on a fixed income to pay for travel costs upfront and out-of-pocket is unacceptable. For many, this is not just difficult but impossible, especially given the long delays to get the money back,” she said.
Ms. Monteith-Farrell said that decades of Conservative and Liberal governments let Northern Ontarians down by failing to make healthcare accessible in their region. By ignoring the existing travel grant’s obvious issues, the present government is making things worse.
“No one should have to rack up credit card debt because of a healthcare appointment, or have to go without seeing a doctor because they cannot afford it,” said Ms. Monteith-Farrell. She added, “by fixing the travel grant, we can ensure more people get the care they need, when they need it. Being sick is stressful enough; it’s time to fix the travel grant so Northerners can focus on getting better, rather than worrying about how they’ll afford to get medical care.”