Canadians wounded in the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting can apply for Nevada’s victims of crime program to help pay for costly medical bills up to $35,000, but that limit could be increased Global News has learned.
The program which offers assistance to anyone who is “a victim of violent crime in Nevada, involving physical injury, threat of physical injury or death.”
A spokesperson for The Nevada Department of Administration, which administers the program, confirmed that Canadians could also apply to help pay for medical bills, mental health counselling, wage or income loss and funeral expenses.
“Anyone who was present at the time of the shooting can apply for assistance,” said Mary Woods, a public information officer for the Nevada Department of Administration, in a statement. “Typically the funding from the Victims of Crime Program goes directly to a facility to reimburse for care or services. However, there are instances where individuals will get reimbursed directly.”
Woods said that while the program is usually capped at $35,000 that number could potentially increase given the severity of the shooting which killed 58 people, including four Canadians, and injured hundreds more.
“Should we get to that point, there are mechanisms in place to potentially increase the funding limit,” Woods said, adding her agency is also committed to “working with providers from Canada to ensure counselling bills get paid.”
Some Canadians who suffered gunshot wounds that required major surgery faced potentially staggering medical bills after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Hudson Mack, whose 21-year-old son Sheldon didn’t buy travel health insurance before crossing the border, said the medical bills could be “catastrophic.”
“It’s a lesson to Canadians to not cross the border without coverage,” Mack told the Canadian Press.
Joseph Lambourne, whose wife was shot in the stomach, was concerned about the costs of care and getting her home to Manitoba.
“She can only take about three steps,” he told Global News from the Valley Hospital Medical Center on Thursday. “It’s going to be a long road to recovery.”
Woods said they have already received nearly 500 applications. She said that anyone applying for the funding should reference “Route 91” or “Las Vegas mass shooting” in addition to indicating their physical or emotional injuries.
The Canadian government has a program that provides financial assistance for Canadians victimized abroad but has a limit of $10,000 and doesn’t cover lost wages.
In the wake of the shooting, dozens of crowdfunding campaigns have been created to help victims. One campaign started by Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak, a Democrat running for governor, has raised more than $9 million of its $15-million goal.
Online crowdfunding pages at GoFundMe have been created to help the families of three Canadians killed in the mass shooting, including Calla Medig, Jessica Klymchuk, Tara Roe, Jordan McIldoon. Campaigns have also been created to help Braden Matejka, Sheldon Mack and Ryan Sarrazin who were injured.
Will McAleer, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, says the tragedy underscores the importance of having a travel insurance policy. He said when surgeries, rehabilitation, and air transport are taken into account, violent injuries from gunshots can cost US$300,000 or higher.
“Travellers are enjoying their vacations and then something like this happens,” McAleer said. “And whether it’s New York, Edmonton, whether it’s Orlando, or London, it’s becoming all too common an occurrence.”
*With a file from the Canadian Press