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Companion grant clarified

To the editor: In response to a Letter to the Editor published in the Jan.


To the editor:

In response to a Letter to the Editor published in the Jan. 29, 2010 issue of Thunder Bay Source regarding the Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG), I would like to take this opportunity to share some general information about this program.

The NHTG is intended to help defray medical related travel costs for eligible Northern Ontario residents who must travel long distances within Ontario or Manitoba (Winnipeg) to access OHIP-insured medical specialists, or OHIP-designated health care facility services that are not locally available.

The NHTG Program also provides the opportunity for a Companion Travel Grant, which is designed to ensure eligible patients are supported and assisted during out-of-town medical treatment travel.

Patients eligible for the NHTG, whose referring Northern Health Care Provider recommends a companion travels with them (at least one way) to their out-of-town medical treatment, may apply for a Companion Travel Grant.

If the patient and companion have each paid a fare (plane, train or bus), both may receive a grant. If a companion travels with the patient by car, then both may apply for an equal share of one grant.

The author of the letter states that she did not travel with the patient. This would render her ineligible for a Companion Travel Grant. It is important to note that neither patients who are air-lifted for treatment, nor companions who (if space allows) accompany those patients via air ambulance, are eligible to receive a NHTG because they do not incur the cost of that travel to the treatment facility.

Northern Caucus has successfully advocated on behalf of our constituents to achieve improvements to the NHTG program.

In response to Northern Caucus recommendations, the Ontario Liberal government incorporated the following enhancements in 2007:

*  implemented an increase in grant mileage allowance from 34.25 cents to 41 cents per kilometre
* introduced for the first time in the history of the program, an accommodation allowance of $100 per eligible trip 
* reduced processing time by two weeks, to allow patients to receive travel payment in a timelier manner.

For general information regarding eligibility and application forms, we encourage you to contact the ServiceOntario Infoline at 1-866-532-3161 or visit the website prior to your travel, if time allows at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/ohip/northern.aspx.

Bill Mauro,
MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan