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Fedeli feels more can be done for Hope Air

'We are always grateful for all of the groups, organizations and businesses that are contributing to the north'
Vic Fedeli speaking during a media session on May 31 on the set of SkyMed.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says the province is doing its best to try and improve travel assistance for northerners who need medical care from outside their region. 

"There is always more that we can do there is no question about that," said Fedeli. 

"We are always grateful for all of the groups, organizations and businesses that are contributing to the north." 

Fedeli responded to the issue during a media conference celebrating North Bay's growing film industry on the set of the TV series SkyMed. 

The issue will be the focus of a charity concert this weekend in Timmins as Hope Air is looking to raise money for medical travel support for patients with life-threatening (non-emergency) medical needs requiring travel in Canada. 

On June 7, municipalities across Northern Ontario will proclaim it “Hope Air Day” drawing attention to an immediate and critical need for support for rural and northern Ontario communities.

See related: Hope Air and Armed Forces Day on tap for Cory Marks

North Bay country artist Cory Marks will be performing in support of the cause on Friday in Timmins. The performance will be live-streamed from across the country. 

“It’s a bit of an introduction to help bring awareness to what’s going on,” Marks told LJI reporter Amanda Rabski-McColl.

“They provide the flights, accommodations, transportation, meals, and it’s good information for these patients we have in Northern Ontario that need this medical care but just can’t afford it.”

Hope Air officials say residents, municipalities, and healthcare workers are extremely concerned about the state of access to healthcare in northern Ontario. Canada’s physician shortage crisis impacts these communities hardest, and options for basic healthcare continue to diminish. 

"Hope Air is encouraged by the news that the more than 11,000 Ontarians in Sault Ste Marie will continue to receive access to their family doctors through a new outpatient clinic, but that is only one crisis averted among many, including a hospital in James Bay which is in dire need of repair that is critical to ensuring the 12,000 people living along the Western James Bay and Hudson Bay Coast can continue to access care," Hope Air stated in a release.

This year the Ontario government has invested $45 million in the Northern Health Travel Grant, and additional millions into telehealth programs like CritiCall. While these services provide support to many, for patients in financial need,

Hope Air officials believe that funding is not enough.

"They leave the onus on the patient to invest significant out-of-pocket expenses for essential medical travel," Hope Air continued. 

"The government and healthcare systems must continue to focus on improving access to primary care.  But for people living in Northern Ontario, long-distance travel to specialized medical treatment is a fact of life. Hope Air has been providing free medical travel programs for over 20 years to ensure Ontarians in need can access medical travel at no cost."

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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