Ontario Connecting People in the North to the Care They Need

Ontario Connecting People in the North to the Care They Need

As part of the Ontario government’s 2024 Ontario Budget, the province is investing $45 million over three years to expand the Northern Health Travel Grant Program to help people in Northern Ontario connect to the specialized care and services they need.

“Our government knows that for too long, patients in Northern Ontario have faced unique challenges when accessing health care and that is why our government is taking action to expand access to care, in every corner of the province,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Our investment to expand and enhance the Northern Health Travel Grant, will ensure more people in Northern Ontario can connect to the specialized care they need, when they need it.”

The Northern Health Travel Grant provides financial reimbursements that help cover the medical-related costs Northern Ontario residents can incur when travelling to access OHIP-insured health care services that are not available within a 100-kilometre radius of where they live. These include specialist visits and some diagnostic services.

The province will begin implementing expansions and improvements to the Northern Health Travel Grant Program starting in Fall 2024 including:

  • Introducing a more convenient online application form that includes digital receipt submissions and makes reimbursement faster.
  • Eliminating the need for a signature from the referring health care provider, making the application process easier.
  • Adding more eligible health care providers and more facility locations, such as community laboratories, to help more people get reimbursed for their incurred costs.
  • Removing the 100-kilometre deductible so people are reimbursed for every kilometre travelled to help offset higher gas prices.

New changes are also increasing reimbursements for overnight trips for the first time since 2017 to better reflect people’s needs and increased costs, including:

  • Increasing the accommodation allowance from $100 to $175 per night, as well as increasing the total allowance for eight or more nights from $550 to $1,150.
  • Reducing the travel distance requirement to be eligible for overnight accommodation allowance from 200 kilometres to 100 kilometres.
  • Expanding eligibility to include medical travel companions accompanying a patient who is hospitalized.

“The Northern Health Travel Grant plays a vital role in mitigating the financial burden of medical‐related travel for the people of Ontario in Northern communities,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “This enhancement in Ontario’s 2024 Budget is part of our plan to support health care in northern and rural communities.”

Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is making it easier and faster for people to connect to the care they need, when they need it, no matter where they live.

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