Nunavik parents can now accompany children on province’s air ambulance
“This is excellent news … for the well-being of Nunavik children”
Nunavik health authorities say a revised policy that allows parents to travel with their children in Quebec’s air ambulance is now in effect.
While regular medevacs in Nunavik have allowed parents to accompany their children, emergency medical evacuations in the province’s Challenger jet have not.
Earlier this year, a group of Montreal doctors raised concerns that separating children from their parents during emergencies was traumatic and stressful for families, particularly those in Nunavik.
Public outcry forced the government to backtrack on the policy, though it took months for the organization that operates the province’s air ambulance agency, Évacuations aéromédicales du Québec, or ÉVAQ, to make the necessary adjustments to allow parents on board.
As of Friday, June 29, parents or guardians can now accompany children on the Challenger jet, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said in a release.
“This is excellent news for the communities as well as for the well-being of Nunavik children,” said the health board’s executive director, Minnie Grey.
The issue made headlines again earlier this month when Quebec’s health minister, Gaétan Barrette, was asked about the policy at a public event, and responded saying there would be issues with intoxicated parents being barred from flights.
Inuit leaders have called for the minister’s resignation. Barrette apologized but denied that his comments were directed at Inuit parents.
In 2016, Quebec’s Challenger air ambulance flew 116 children from Nunavik to Montreal hospitals for care, and about half that number in 2017.
There have been about a dozen emergency medical evacuations of children from Nunavik so far this year—none of whom were accompanied by their parents.