Record number of Northern Ontario families seek support from Hope Air to reach medical care far from home in 2023

Demand for Hope Air programs for Ontario patients increases 165% in 2023 to 3,367 travel arrangements for patients in need travelling long distance to reach critical medical care.

(February 01, 2024) Hope Air, Canada’s national charity providing travel support to patients in financial need who must travel far from home to access vital medical care, announced an all-time record high in travel arrangement support for residents of Ontario. This milestone of 3,367 travel arrangements in Ontario includes over 1,736 airline flights for families, individuals, and children travelling from diverse communities across the province including Thunder Bay, Timmins, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Hearst, Sudbury, Gore Bay, Kenora, and Windsor, among many others.

Hope Air’s free medical travel programs assist patients living in numerous small, remote or rural communities across Ontario, by providing airline, hotel, meals and ground transportation programs. These programs support patients who cannot afford the significant expenses associated with travelling for diagnostic testing, treatment, and follow-up care for a variety of health conditions including Cancer, Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Respiratory, Orthopedic, Mental Health, Autism, and Pediatric conditions among many others. Hope Air programs support the policies of government that are committed to reducing poverty and improving access to health care.

“Where you live should not determine if you live” said Mark Rubinstein, Chief Hope Officer, Hope Air “With soaring demand from families and children in need who turn to Hope Air, we must continue to find ways to answer their call. As demand grows exponentially, exceeding our available resources, we must come together – government, health care sector, private sector, donors and volunteers – to support the unique role that Hope Air plays in Ontario. Equitable access to health care – despite distance or financial means – is a fundamental right.”

“Without Hope Air helping me travel from Northern Ontario to Toronto for cancer treatment, I would have been forced to delay my appointments and go deeply into debt” said Lorena from Hearst, Ontario. “With their support, I have been able to focus on my treatment and care for Ovarian Cancer. Hope Air literally saved my life.”

Background Information:
  • Over 800,000 people reside in Northern Ontario, far from specialty medical care provided by leading hospitals such as Sick Kids, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Mount Sinai. Most communities in Northern Ontario are rural and remote with limited specialized medical care facilities.
  • Hope Air supports patients living in communities such as Timmins, Thunder Bay, Kenora, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Kapuskasing and Gore Bay among many others.
  • Funding for Hope Air programs is provided through the generous support of corporate, foundation and individual donors. However, as demand will exceed available resources, Hope Air is advocating for a funding partnership with the Government of Ontario.
  • In other provinces throughout Canada, such as British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador, Hope Air has established funding partnerships with the provincial government to ensure equitable access to health care for patients.
  • 10 per cent of people in Ontario live in low-income or circumstances of financial strain struggling to pay for the necessities of life every day. This includes 1 in 5 single adults and over 100,000 children.
  • Equitable access to health care is directly related to life expectancy. Individuals living in Northern Ontario 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 and shorter life expectancies than others in the province.
  • 17% of the population of Northern Ontario identify as Indigenous compared to 5% in the rest of the province.
  • 25% of Hope Air’s patients are children. Northern Ontario’s child poverty rate is well above the national average.
  • Low-income families in rural and remote communities are twice as likely to have multiple chronic conditions as compared to others.
  • 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 per visit.
  • Patients seeking support for medical travel needs can apply online to Hope air at or call 1-877-346-4673
  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 170,000 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. Hope Air is one of the only disease agnostic charities supporting patients in need for all types of medical conditions and illness. Without the access Hope Air provides, our national system of universal healthcare coverage would fall short of its promise and 33 per cent of patients would cancel or postpone their appointments. For more information, visit

For Further Information:
Jodi Lumsden
Director of Marketing & Communications

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