In wake of Amy Savill case, hotline set up for northern Ontario mothers to share their experiences of being forced to travel in order to give birth safely

TORONTO, Aug. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - A special hotline has been set up to record the experience of parents forced to travel in northern Ontario in order to give birth safely.  Recently an Alberta woman, Amy Savill, was forced to medevac from Timmins to Sudbury in order to safely give birth. She was asked initially asked to pay the costs of the air transfer, which could reach $30,000.

"The Ontario government is aggressively cutting and centralizing obstetric services. Increasingly these cuts are forcing young families in the north to travel - and to absorb the risks and the costs of that travel – in order to safely give birth. Because childbirth is unpredictable, mothers are routinely being told they must travel from communities like Geraldton, to cities like Thunder Bay, where they must stay for two weeks prior to their delivery. The northern travel grant gives them $100 towards accommodation that actually costs $1500 or more. Amy Savill's story plays out on a more modest scale many times every day in the north," says Sharon Richer, north-east Vice-president for the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU).

"The Northern Health Travel Grant is insufficient and is a terrible replacement for accessible care," noted Judy Bain, northwest Ontario Vice-president for OCHU. "We need to remember that young families, especially single parent ones, simply do not have the resources to absorb such expenses. People in southern Ontario would be shocked to know that birthing services are being cut in communities as large as Kenora in northern Ontario. Essentially, the provincial government is asking northerners to cover the costs of having a child safely," Bain added.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions has set-up a hotline that new and expecting parents can call to tell their stories of childbirth and the travel-related costs they have been forced to absorb. The hotline # is 1-888-599-0770.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Sharon Richer, northeast V.P. Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 705-280-0911; Judy Bain, northwest V.P. Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 416-300-6763; Eric Newsstadt, OCHU Research and Campaigns: 416-820-4493


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