The opposition NDP is calling on the Ford Government to update the Northern Health Travel Grant. The party says it needs to be boosted to keep up with the rising cost of gas and accommodation. Mushkegowuk-James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin spoke to the issue during Question Period.
“This program doesn’t even cover the cost of gas let alone a hotel room to travel for residents of northern Ontario,” he said. “Patients are left paying out of pocket for their expenses or racking up credit card bills. Sadly some people must cancel their appointments because they simply can’t afford it.”
Bourgouin says the reimbursement rate for gas has remained unchanged for years at 41 cents per kilometre.
“With the cost of gas sitting at $1.90 or two dollars per litre, the hotel industry has seen an increase rate of up to 30 per cent,” he said. “It’s not uncommon to pay $150 per night. The travel grant covers a $100 for two nights. Meals are never included in the grant.”
Bourgouin says patients are left paying their expenses out of pocket and racking up high credit card bills. He adds that many people are forced to cancel their appointments because they simply can’t afford it.
He adds that increasing the grant, along with changing the reimbursement formula, would help offset the cost of medical travel for northern residents.