Medical travel likely to be reimbursed

  • Nov. 24, 2006 10:00 a.m.

Islanders who had to fly to Prince Rupert to keep medical appointments when ferry service was suspended last week will likely have their plane fares covered by the Ministry of Health, says MLA Gary Coons’s office. Mr. Coons spoke to Health Minister George Abbott about the situation in the hallways of the Legislature on Thursday (Nov. 23), said constituency assistant Pauline Woodrow. Mr. Abbott apparently said his ministry will reimburse medical passengers who had to fly to Rupert instead of taking the ferry. However, there will be no money for non-medical travellers who were forced to fly, such as the senior girls’ volleyball team from Queen Charlotte Secondary. Under the province’s travel assistance program, medical passengers (with a vehicle and escort, if required) can travel free on BC Ferries, but only receive a 30-percent discount on plane tickets. With no ferry service available, islanders who had appointments in Prince Rupert had to spend a couple of hundred dollars to get there and back, plus the additional cost of taking taxis once they were there. Ms Woodrow said the details have not been worked out yet, but affected islanders should keep their receipts and wait for news about where to send them. “Hopefully we’ll know by next week what the procedure will be,” she told the Observer Friday. Her office knows of at least three islanders who had to shell out for plane fares so they didn’t lose doctors’ appointments, but there are probably several more. For more information, call Mr. Coons’s office at 1-866-624-7734.

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