A medical trip out of Labrador to see a doctor in St. John's can easily run north of $1,000, but a new program for cancer patients is aimed at helping ease the costs.
The Canadian Cancer Society and Hope Air teamed up, announcing a new program on Wednesday to provide free flights for treatments needed outside the region.
Doug Keller-Hobson, executive director of Hope Air, a national charity that provides flights for medical treatments, said the organization provides trips for patients who need treatments in other parts of Canada, and occasionally in other countries.
But he said the trip out of Labrador to St. John's is a difficult one for patients to make.
"Across the country, this is one of the harder journeys for people to make," Keller-Hobson said.
Last year, Hope Air provided 600 flights for patients in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Keller-Hobson said a fairly large portion of those were trips out of Wabush.
"If you were to do this by road or by bus, you also then find yourself up against a ferry ride on top of that, and then another long, long journey," he said.
The Canadian Cancer Society has allocated $60,000 for flights to medical treatments not available in western Labrador.
Labrador MP Yvonne Jones said the program will help fill a big gap left by provincial programs for people in the area.
"It's definitely an effort to fill a gap that I see in my riding, and I'm sure I'm not alone," Jones said. "I'm sure it exists in other areas of the province."
As long as the treatment is covered by the provincial health plan, and the patient demonstrates a financial need, the program will help finance the flight.