Ontario Connecting People in the North to the Care They Need

April 30, 2024

As part of the Ontario government’s 2024 Ontario Budget, the province is investing $45 million over three years to expand the Northern Health Travel Grant Program to help people in Northern Ontario connect to the specialized care and services they need.

“Our government knows that for too long, patients in Northern Ontario have faced unique challenges when accessing health care and that is why our government is taking action to expand access to care, in every corner of the province,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Our investment to expand and enhance the Northern Health Travel Grant, will ensure more people in Northern Ontario can connect to the specialized care they need, when they need it.”

The Northern Health Travel Grant provides financial reimbursements that help cover the medical-related costs Northern Ontario residents can incur when travelling to access OHIP-insured health care services that are not available within a 100-kilometre radius of where they live. These include specialist visits and some diagnostic services.

The province will begin implementing expansions and improvements to the Northern Health Travel Grant Program starting in Fall 2024 including:

  • Introducing a more convenient online application form that includes digital receipt submissions and makes reimbursement faster.
  • Eliminating the need for a signature from the referring health care provider, making the application process easier.
  • Adding more eligible health care providers and more facility locations, such as community laboratories, to help more people get reimbursed for their incurred costs.
  • Removing the 100-kilometre deductible so people are reimbursed for every kilometre travelled to help offset higher gas prices.

New changes are also increasing reimbursements for overnight trips for the first time since 2017 to better reflect people’s needs and increased costs, including:

  • Increasing the accommodation allowance from $100 to $175 per night, as well as increasing the total allowance for eight or more nights from $550 to $1,150.
  • Reducing the travel distance requirement to be eligible for overnight accommodation allowance from 200 kilometres to 100 kilometres.
  • Expanding eligibility to include medical travel companions accompanying a patient who is hospitalized.

“The Northern Health Travel Grant plays a vital role in mitigating the financial burden of medical‐related travel for the people of Ontario in Northern communities,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “This enhancement in Ontario’s 2024 Budget is part of our plan to support health care in northern and rural communities.”

Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is making it easier and faster for people to connect to the care they need, when they need it, no matter where they live.


Quick Facts

  • This investment was announced as part of the 2024 Ontario Budget, to help support health care access for the people of Northern Ontario.
  • In 2022-2023, approximately 170,000 Northern Health Travel Grants were processed to support the travel and accommodation needs of approximately 66,000 Northern Ontario residents.
  • 98 per cent of eligible applications for the Northern Health Travel Grant are paid within four to six weeks. The new, online submission form is expected to further reduce processing time.
  • The Ministry of Health also provides a telephone support service to help clients who need help completing their applications. The number to call for assistance is 1-800-262-6524.

Quotes

“I am pleased to see the improvements our government is making to update the Northern Health Travel Grant. As an advocate for Northern Ontario, I understand the importance of providing support for our constituents to access vital healthcare services across the province. This increased funding ensures our residents can focus on their health care needs and not the additional burden of travel expenses.”

– Kevin Holland
MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan

“Our government is responding to the increased travel costs for health care services and programs in the Northwest. In the Kenora and Rainy River districts, we travel as much if not more for health-related services than anyone in the region. As a Northerner, I’ve experienced the process and increased costs firsthand. This expansion will come as a tremendous relief to my constituents.”

– Greg Rickford
MPP for Kenora-Rainy River

“I am proud to be a part of a government that is sticking up for northerners and ensuring that we receive and have access to the care we need by expanding the Northern Health Travel Grant Program. Our investment of $45 million over the next three years will help the people in our community and those across the north facing unique healthcare challenges get the specialized care they deserve.”

– George Pirie
MPP for Timmins

“For years, my constituents in Nipissing have expressed their concerns over the Northern Health Travel Grants reimbursement rates. We are pleased that our government has heard their concerns. Through the program’s $45 million expansion, patients in Northern Ontario will have additional assistance to the health care services they require.”

– Vic Fedeli
MPP for Nipissing

“The expansion of the Northern Health Travel Grant is excellent news for the residents of East and West Parry Sound. Our government is ensuring that Northern Ontario residents have access to the services and resources they require. We’re prioritizing the North by making smart and strategic investments that improve health outcomes while making life less expensive.”

– Graydon Smith
MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka

“The enhancements made by our government will be a significant benefit to the residents of the Township of South Algonquin in my riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.”

– John Yakabuski
MPP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke


Additional Resources


Related Topics

Health and Wellness

Get help navigating Ontario’s health care system and connecting with the programs or services you’re looking for. Learn more

Rural and North

Information about the province’s Far North and rural communities. Get connected to business improvement organizations and learn more about funding and programs that support rural, northern and Indigenous communities. Learn more