Skip to content

MPP announces private member’s bill to hike medical travel grant

Bill would establish advisory committee to upgrade shortfalls in travel reimbursement
Algoma-Manitoulin independent MPP Michael Mantha officially announced the bill at a press conference at the Espanola health centre

Algoma-Manitoulin independent MPP Michael Mantha is set to put forward his private member’s bill aimed at improving reimbursement rates for patient travel in northern Ontario.

Mantha officially announced the bill at a press conference at the Espanola health centre Monday and plans to introduce the bill once Queen's Park reconvenes after its Christmas break next week.

The bill, if approved by a majority of MPPs, would see the establishment of a Northern Health Travel Grant Advisory Committee Act to upgrade shortfalls in the travel grant funding first established by the David Peterson government in 1985.

“The grant has had two notable increases in reimbursements rates for travel, once in 2001 under the Mike Harris government and again in 2007 under the Dalton McGuinty government,” a press release issued by Mantha stated. “In 2017 the Accommodation Allowance was expanded under the Kathleen Wynne government.”

Mantha told reporters Monday that the travel allowance paid to northern residents to make trips to medical specialists a distance from their own communities or staying overnight at hotels for medical visits has not kept pace with actual costs.

“The health ministry administers the Northern Health Travel Grant to help northern Ontario residents access hospital services that may be a long distance from their home,” he said.

“The mileage rate of 41 cents per kilometre was last updated 16 years ago and is well below the 2023 rate of 68 cents per kilometre that the Revenue Canada Agency set for business travel.”

Payment for overnight stays is $100 per night, far short of what an actual hotel stay would be, he noted.

He said the committee would look at attracting more doctors to northern Ontario hospitals to limit the distances patients have to travel from their own homes and improving grants available to patients who have to get treatment at a distance.

“I’ve been lobbying the Liberals, I’ve been lobbying the NDP, I’ve been lobbying government to support me on this piece of legislation because that support will help northern Ontarians."

For patients to receive the grant they must live a minimum of 100 kilometres from where they will get specialist care to qualify.

Mantha is optimistic his bill will pass in the legislature and set the stage for the creation of the committee.


About the Author: Kris Svela

Kris Svela has worked in community newspapers for the past 36 years covering politics, human interest, courts, municipal councils, and the wide range of other topics of community interest
Read more