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Quebec government to allow parents on air ambulance flights with kids

In this file photo an air ambulance lands on the roof of a hospital. The Quebec government will now allow parents to accompany sick kids on medical flights. Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. Tom Andriuk / Global News

The Quebec government is changing course on a controversial policy and will now allow parents to accompany their sick children on emergency air evacuations.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette says at least one parent will be permitted to join their children on air ambulance flights.

Barrette adds the pilot will have final say whether the parent or relative can be brought on board, taking any security questions into consideration.

READ MORE: Quebec doctors call on province to let parents accompany kids on medical flights

The policy was being challenged by a trio of Montreal physicians who wrote to the Quebec government in December calling for a change.

They urged the Health Department to act, saying the policy disproportionately affected northern Inuit and First Nations communities.

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The doctors say sending children from remote areas to hospitals alone was traumatic and could lead to issues in giving them treatment.

Both the Canadian and Quebec pediatric societies also lent their support to the call this month.

READ MORE: Let parents accompany their kids on medical flights, Quebec child-advocacy groups urge

Barrette visited the air ambulance planes used by the province on Thursday and said following the visit it would be possible to harmonize Quebec’s policies with the rest of Canada.

Quebec was believed to be the only province that refused to allow parents or guardians to accompany their children on emergency flights.

He explained that two of the air ambulances have space for a parent while the third plane, an older model, would need to be retrofitted and would have to be removed from service for a year and requires federal government approval.

READ MORE: Quebec ambulance workers demonstrate outside health minister’s office

The province previously said it was due to a lack of space because of equipment on board the planes.

Instead the government footed the bill to have families flown to their children’s bedsides on commercial flights.

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