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Quebec: Province to allow a parent on air ambulance

At least one parent or guardian may now accompany a sick child in a Quebec air ambulance during a medical emergency. Previously, Quebec was the only province that refused to allow this. (Photo: Government of Quebec)

(Staff)  THE QUEBEC government is reversing a controversial policy and will now allow at least one parent or guardian to accompany a sick child in an air ambulance during a medical emergency. Health Minister Gaetan Barrette made the announcement Feb. 16th. Quebec was the only province that refused to allow parents or guardians to accompany their children on emergency flights.

Last December three Montreal physicians wrote the Quebec government a letter, saying that the policy disproportionately affected northern Inuit and First Nations communities and that transporting the children alone hundreds of miles from their remote communities led to difficulties in providing them with effective treatment in southern Quebec. And it was difficult for doctors to make life-or-death decisions without a parent present. 

Most northern parents could ill afford to pay or wait for a commercial flight in order to follow a sick child south to Montreal. And the gravely ill child would feel abandoned by the parent in the already strange and stressful environment of a large urban hospital. A child’s health outcome is notably better when a family member is by their bedside, speaking the child’s mother tongue. Advances in medical science are crucial but so are the bonds of human affection.

Last year the Montreal Children’s Hospital treated 219 children from fly-in communities in Nunavik and 146 children from remote Cree communities. Residents of these communities have been protesting the ‘no accompaniment’ policy for three decades.   TAP

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