British Columbia Patient Demand soars
for medical travel programs in 2023

Siyam and Katrin, Golden, BC have travelled from Golden to Vancouver for Siyam’s care.

Hope Air medical travel programs, generously supported by the government of British Columbia and Donors, increase 145% in 2023 to 14,132 travel arrangements for patients in financial need living in rural, remote, or smaller communities.

(January 25, 2024) Hope Air announced today an all-time record high in annual travel support for residents of British Columbia in financial need, who must travel long distances to reach medical care far from home. This milestone of 14,132 travel arrangements includes over 5,441 airline flights, 4,778 accommodation nights, 1,420 ground transportation trips and over 2,452 meals for patients staying overnight as part of their medical treatment.

Hope Air provides free, non-emergency medical travel to families and individuals in financial need who must travel long distances to access diagnosis and care. In 2023, Hope Air supported patients in over 196 communities from across British Columbia including Terrace, Smithers, Fort Nelson, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Fort St. John, Creston, Prince Rupert, Trail, Sandspit, Williams Lake, Port Hardy and Campbell River.

Hope Air patients travel for medical specialist care for a wide variety of health conditions including Cancer, Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Respiratory, Orthopedic, Mental Health, Autism, and numerous pediatric conditions. Over 30% of all Hope Air patients are children and their parent travelling for treatment to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Another 32% of Hope Air patients are seniors and their caregiver.

Hope Air’s mission is to ensure equitable access to health care for the most vulnerable in our society. Established in 1986, Hope Air supports patients who cannot afford the significant expenses associated with travelling for diagnostic testing, treatment and follow up care. Hope Air programs facilitate better health, less poverty and stronger communities throughout the province.

“This past year of record service demonstrates the growing demand and need for Hope Air programs for thousands of patients across the province” said Mark Rubinstein, Chief Hope Officer. “Equitable access to health care – despite distance or financial means – is a fundamental right that we must continue to provide. We are grateful for the long-standing support of our partners that fuel our mission including the Government of British Columbia, corporate, foundation and individual donors, volunteers and airline and airport partners. Never has our work been more relevant or needed.”

“Hope Air has been a lifeline for me, not just in terms of getting to medical appointments but in the emotional support they provide. It’s like having a guardian angel during a challenging time in your life,” said Bonnie, a Hope Air patient from Grasmere, BC, “They are like a big warm blanket that somebody’s thrown around you.”

“Hope Air has been an indispensable ally in our quest to create healthcare equity in rural British Columbia” says Paul Adams, Executive Director of the BC Rural Health Network. “Their dedicated team treats each individual with utmost respect and empathy, transforming the daunting task of medical travel into a journey of care and support. Their commitment resonates deeply with our values at the BC Rural Health Network, and we are profoundly grateful for the difference they make every day.”

Background Information:

  • Over one million people in British Columbia live far from specialty medical care provided by leading hospitals in Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, and Prince George. This includes people living in rural, remote and smaller communities such as Port Hardy, Masset, Prince Rupert, Mackenzie, Fort Nelson, Chetwynd, 100 Mile House, Revelstoke and Cranbrook among many others.

  • Individuals from lower income households are more likely to live with chronic disease than their higher income counterparts.

  • 15 per cent of people in B.C. live in low-income circumstances struggling to pay for the necessities of life every day. This includes over 1 in 8 children, 1 in 5 single adults, and 1 in 3 single parent families. In 2020, 17% of all children in rural BC lived in poverty.

  • Equitable access to health care is directly related to life expectancy. People living in rural communities experience significant challenges in accessing healthcare and are more likely to delay seeking treatment, worsening their health outcomes. Delays in accessing treatment are associated with significantly worse survival rates. In some rural areas of British Columbia, life expectancy can be over five years lower than life expectancy in urban areas.

  • The expenses paid by a patient to travel for medical care, requiring treatment or surgery for cancer, cardiac, organ transplant, orthopaedic and other conditions can exceed $2,000 or more per visit.

  • Hope Air programs are funded through the generous support of the government of British Columbia, Provincial Health Services Authority, as well as corporate, foundation and individual donors.

  • Patients seeking support for medical travel needs can apply online to Hope Air at or call1-877-346-4673

  • About Hope Air
    Hope Air is Canada’s national charity providing free travel support through flights, accommodations, meals and ground transportation for Canadians in financial need who must access medical care far from home. Since its inception in 1986, Hope Air has provided more than 180,000 travel arrangements for patients regardless of age or medical need. For people living on a low income in small and rural communities, distance and cost are very real barriers to them accessing vital medical care. Hope Air is a unique and essential part of our Canadian healthcare system. For more information, visit

    For Further Information:
    Jodi Lumsden
    Director of Marketing & Communications
    Tel. 647-688-5634

    We acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded, traditional territories of many Indigenous peoples. We are grateful for the privilege of being on lands that these peoples have nurtured since time immemorial.