Windsor

Ontario plugs gaps in palliative care with changes first proposed in Dan's Law

A Windsor family says they're 'super excited' about changes to Ontario's OHIP coverage that they started fighting for after their father faced delays in publicly-funded care before he died.

Changes will expand healthcare coverage for people moving or returning to Ontario

Laura Duma helped her dad Dan Duma come home to Windsor, Ont. to be with his family before he died. Under inter-provincial rules, he was not able to get access to publicly-funded palliative care in Ontario because he was living in Fort McMurray. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

A Windsor family says they are 'super excited' about changes to Ontario's OHIP coverage that they started fighting for after their father faced delays in publicly-funded care before he died.

Dan Duma returned to Windsor from Fort McMurray in 2016 while suffering from terminal liver cancer. He wanted to be closer to his family. 

But when he arrived in in Ontario to be with their children, his wish to die at home was complicated by Ontario's three-month waiting period for palliative care coverage.

Two years later, after a push from his family, his doctor and NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky, the waiting period has been removed.

A father and a family's fight

"I know my dad would be very happy about what happened," said his daughter Laura Duma, who said she was surprised by the announced changes on Wednesday. 

"When he was still alive, he was thinking 'I've got to change this for other people, I want other people to not have to have the circle like we did' and here we are."

Dan Duma was unable to access publicly-funded palliative care in Ontario because he was living in Fort McMurray. (Ana-Cornelia Duma/Provided )

The expanded coverage removes the waiting period for OHIP coverage for people trying to access home or palliative care after moving or returning to Ontario. 

It also expands interprovincial coverage so that the province will now cover home and community care services for people who live in Ontario but find themselves needing the services in another province. 

'Bittersweet surprise'

"I was shocked," said Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, who tabled a bill called Dan's Law in 2016 which proposed similar changes through legislation. 

Gretzky said she was not made aware of the province's plan to make changes to healthcare coverage and calls this a "bittersweet surprise."

"This hasn't been easy for them to share Dan's story," said Gretzky, who commended the family on being able to fight for changes while mourning their father. 

Gretzky is concerned that because the changes are through regulations and not through legislation they could easily be changed by any future government. 

"The government could have easily passed my bill a year and a half ago," she said, citing a government study that suggests 650 to 700 people are either returning to Ontario or in need of case in another province. 

"Had they done something with my bill a year and a half ago, if they had actually passed it, those patients wouldn't have fallen through the cracks. They would have had the appropriate end of life car that that needed and frankly deserved."

Duma's daughter echoed those frustrations on Wednesday. 

"It was frustrating just in the thinking of other people going through it while we're trying to make this happen."

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