Nfld. & Labrador

Woman originally from N.L. denied exemption to travel home for mother's funeral

Daina MacNeil says her request was denied without reason by the provincial government.

Daina MacNeil lost her mother suddenly on Friday at the age of 57

Daina MacNeil's mother died suddenly Friday at the age of 57. MacNeil's request to travel to Newfoundland for the funeral has been denied by the provincial government. (Submitted by Daina MacNeil)

A woman originally from Middle Arm is unable to return to Newfoundland to attend her mother's funeral after being denied a travel exemption from the provincial government.

Daina MacNeil's mother died suddenly Friday at the age of 57. The next day, MacNeil applied for a travel exemption to travel from her home in Stettler, Alta., about 80 kilometres from Red Deer.

She says her request was denied without reason in an email.

"The email they sent back literally just said 'your request has been denied,'" MacNeil told CBC Radio's On The Go. "Absolutely no reason why."

MacNeil has since sent a second email to the provincial government asking the decision to be reconsidered.

After her mother's death, MacNeil and her family in Newfoundland began to organize an isolation plan for her if she was able to travel to the province, including a rental vehicle ready for her at the airport and a home she could self-isolate in.

The family is also prepared to wait until larger gatherings are able to be held so a funeral can be held with family.

"We realize we would have to limit that at this time, but we have discussed [it]," MacNeil said. "That's something that we should be able to decide as a family, not the government or anybody else, who gets to be at the funeral."

MacNeil's father and brother live in Newfoundland, as do other close relatives and friends. She said it's tough not to be with family in times of grieving.

"Honestly, it's really awful," she said. "My mom and I were incredibly close. And I'm very close to all of my family, and I'm the only one that lives out here. So it's really hard not to be able to be with family right now."

Appeal process in place, Fitzgerald

During Monday's daily media briefing, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, said she can't speak about specific exemption requests. However, she said those who want to appeal have the ability to do so.

"If somebody felt that they received a rejection and wanted to appeal, they could certainly do that," Fitzgerald said. "That would be looked at with the same urgency."

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the exemption process does have an appeal process, where more information may be provided. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Fitzgerald said the appeal process can be used to provide more information to the provincial government to help them make a decision. In previous briefing, government officials have said they would be compassionate in allowing those with a family member in palliative care to come home to be with their loved ones.

MacNeil said she understands the province's travel restrictions, but sees the sudden death of a family member as something that should allow an exemption.

"I'm not asking for extended family to come of any sort, and all the other provinces are allowing travel to cross borders and whatnot," she said. "It's just really hard to understand the reasoning behind it."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go

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