Universal health care may be considered a blessing in this country, but given how spread out and rural much of Canada’s population is, a big issue is still getting to the hospital where the treatment or specialist is available.
(From left) Jim Burton, Doug Keller-Hobson and Andrea Stack of Hope Air want to spread the word about how people can benefit from the charity group and how people can help. — Photo by Josh Pennell/The Telegram
That’s why there’s Hope Air, a 27-year-old, one-of-a-kind charity whose motto is “Getting Canadians to getting better.”
Doug Keller-Hobson, executive director of Hope Air, says the charity group fills the gap where access to health care is not available.
“That’s really our core mission that nobody should be denied universal health care because of where they live in Canada or how much they make,” he says.
In the 27 years the charity has been operating, it has given people more than 78,000 flights and this year will be a banner year for the organization with 7,000 or more flights.
It helps people travel throughout Canada and outside the country.
The people the group helps out most are those who live at the country’s poverty line with a household income of $23,500 or less. It manages to get people to where they need to go through the generosity of airlines and also a variety of fundraising means. In some provinces they also benefit from corporate jets and volunteer pilots. People of all ages and suffering from any type of illness can qualify.
This province — well known for its rural communities and tough commutes for people who need specialized healthcare — have been helped with more than 351 flights already this year. That’s more than twice the number during the same period last year.
Finding people all over Canada who need the help to travel for health care isn’t the issue, says Keller-Hobson.
“It’s limited by the funds we have,” he says.
Local businessman Jim Burton is on the fundraising committee for Hope Air. Spreading the word about Hope Air is key, he says.
“It’s about creating an awareness and helping Hope Air through third party events,” Burton says.
That could be through functions with Rotary clubs, Kinsmen clubs, Lions clubs and so forth.
Burton points out that the average household salary in this province is $28,000. Combine that with the number of people who live a distance from a specialist they may need to see and the importance of such a charity in this province alone becomes clear.
Andrea Stack with CIBC Wood Gundy is also on the fundraising committee. She says meeting people who have benefited from Hope Air says it all.
“You see the impact it has on them in their lives,” Stack says. “It really is a charity that’s making a big difference in the lives if Canadians that are at that poverty level.”
With the numbers growing, Keller-Hobson says Hope Air is only limited by the number of people they can let know about the charity and by the number of people and groups they can get to help them raise money. People who need help and people who want to help can get more information by going to www.hopeair.ca.