Our Mission: To provide Canadians in financial need with free travel
to medical care far from home.
Our Vision: A world in which every Canadian has access to the healthcare they need, despite distance or cost of travel.
For many Canadians, a trip to see a medical specialist is usually a short car or bus drive away. But for thousands of Canadians (over 20% of the population), who live in small and rural communities where specialized medical care is not available, a trip to see a medical specialist might involve an 16 hour car or bus ride. Healthcare coverage starts at the door of the doctor’s office. How you get to the doctor and any related travel costs fall to you. For patients living in small and rural communities, travelling long distances to their specialist medical appointments comes at a cost of time and money. Low-income families can afford neither. This lack of access to specialists and other medically necessary services can also lead to delays in treatment and poorer health outcomes. Access to medical care is a real and relevant problem for many Canadians.
Enter Hope Air - a unique and essential component of Canada’s universal healthcare system. Hope Air is Canada’s only national charity providing free flights to low-income Canadians who must travel to medical care that does not exist in their communities. Hope Air exists to bridge the distance between low-income people living in small and rural areas of our country, and the medical care they need.
In a recent survey, when asked what would happen if they could not rely on Hope Air to access their medical specialist, 29% of patients reported that they would cancel or postpone their medical treatment, while 20% of patients stated they would travel 8-12 + hours each way by bus or car to reach their medical appointment. The burden of time and money is further exacerbated when expenses are incurred for overnight accommodations or lost income from time off work, for them or their caregivers.
“Geography can cause barriers to access. In general rural Canadians have higher health care needs but less access to care. People in northern and rural communities typically have to travel great distances to obtain health services as many, especially specialist services, cannot be obtained in their home community.… This lack of access to specialists and other medically necessary services can lead to delays in treatment and harm to health including unnecessary pain and permanent disability. Further, travel for necessary treatment often comes with a significant financial cost.”*
Hope Air believes that where you live in Canada and how much money you make should not determine your ability to access medical care. A free flight lets families focus on what is truly important – their health.
*Canadian Medical Association: Ensuring Equitable Access to Care (2014)
Hope Air arranged 56 flights in its first year. In 2017, it arranged 12,684 flights.