Pediatric societies press Quebec to change air evacuation policy

Both the Canadian and Quebec pediatric societies say Quebec must change its policy that denies parents the right to accompany their children during urgent medical air evacuations.

The call follows a similar demand by three doctors who wrote to the Quebec government in December, urging the health minister to reconsider the policy they say disproportionately affects northern Inuit and First Nations communities.

Remote northern areas often don't have medical infrastructure to care for critically ill people, and patients are flown to southern cities for services.

Catherine Farrell, the president-elect of the Canadian Pediatric society, says it can be a traumatic experience for children, not just during medical flights, but after transport when decisions are made without parents being present.

Farrell says Quebec is the only jurisdiction in the country that routinely denies parents the ability to fly with their sick kids.

The pediatric society is calling on the Quebec government to change its policy on air flights and to make room on the plane for a parent or relative to accompany their child.

 A spokeswoman for the Quebec health minister says Gaeten Barrette is ``reflecting'' on the issue.