The right to health for dying family members
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After going through hardship with my family, I am starting this petition to close the gap in inter-provincial legislation in regards to the continuity of health care for palliative patients. Especially when a loved one is given less than three months to live. In a country with universal health care, terminally ill citizens should be supported if they want to move in with family who reside in another province.
Currently there is a mandatory 90 day waiting period in Canada to receive coverage under another province's Health Insurance Plan. This rule is blatantly discriminatory for dying patients and makes it very difficult to find and/or fund the appropriate level of care required in their final days - including hospice care.
In Ontario, there is a government body called the OHIP Eligibility Review Board. They currently do not have the powers required to approve exemptions to the 90-day waiting period for out of province OHIP applicants, who have less than 90 days to live. My terminally ill father was denied an exemption twice by the Review Board. We believe this must change.
Here is my father's story:
On April 10th, 2018, my father (66 years old), a Quebec resident and Canadian Citizen by birth, underwent surgery to remove a blockage in his small intestine. He was tragically diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer and with less than three months to live. It was his and my family's wish that he return with me to our home in Guelph, Ontario, so that he could live his final days surrounded and cared for by his loved ones.
For over two weeks, we tended to his needs while he stayed with us in our home. The cancer had spread to his bones, making it critical that he stay properly medicated for the excruciating pain that he experienced from it.
During this time, I was overwhelmed by the wall of red tape that stood in our way for him to be given appropriate medical care, including the prescribing of simple pain medication.
My wife and I underwent enormous stress in what were already difficult times. While attending our two young children and managing my father’s care, we also had to fight for access to the professional care he is entitled to as a Canadian citizen.
Due to his out of province coverage, the only way for him to see a doctor in his increasingly weakened condition was to visit an emergency room. He was so weak that he couldn't even get out of bed, much less get down the stairs and into the car.
We were told that he wouldn't be eligible for hospice care when his condition deteriorated, meanwhile the Guelph General Hospital doesn't even have a Palliative Care Unit. After writing and being turned down twice by the OHIP Eligibility Review Board, I realized that this government department has no ability to make exceptions. Thankfully, after much deliberation and failed attempts to obtain a doctor's prescription, a Nurse Practitioner from the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), was given the ability to take on his case in a limited capacity and order him his pain medication which we had to pay 100 percent of upfront.
The LHIN Nurse Practitioner worked with a private nursing company that we hired, because the LHIN nurses were unavailable due to his non OHIP status. Thankfully for our family, the Nurse Practitioner advocated my father's case to the local Wellington Hospice and they agreed to take him uninsured, taking the full brunt of expenses upon themselves. Forty percent of their funding normally comes from OHIP and the rest from fundraising and donations.
Throughout this whole ordeal - in a country with “universal healthcare”- it was the kindness of individuals who went above and beyond their professional duties, to advocate for my father’s rights, that made his basic level health care possible.
We ask that discretionary powers can be granted to the Review Board in Ontario - and to every similar government bodies in all the other provinces and territories.
Please sign and share this petition to ensure our loved ones are properly cared for in their greatest hour of need!
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