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Canadian Paediatric Society

Paediatricians call on Québec to reverse policy blocking family members from accompanying sick kids on air ambulance flights

Feb 6 2018

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and the Association des pédiatres du Québec (APQ) are calling on the Québec government to change its current practice of routinely denying parental accompaniment of minors during urgent medical air evacuations to tertiary care centres in the province.

Although this policy applies to all children in Québec, Indigenous children and families from Nunavik are disproportionately affected.

“Every effort should be made to ensure a parent will be with their child during this stressful period,” said Dr. Radha Jetty, Chair of the CPS First Nations, Inuit and Métis Health Committee. “This is particularly crucial in Indigenous communities, where families have experienced intergenerational trauma from the forced removal of children during the residential school system and during the tuberculosis epidemic.”

With the exception of Quebec, it is standard practice for air ambulance teams across Canada to encourage a significant other to accompany patients on urgent air transfers. There is clear evidence to suggest that family presence results in better outcomes for critically ill children.

“Separating a child from their parent when they are frightened, hurt or when they may be at risk of dying is cruel,” said Dr. Catherine Farrell, President-elect of the CPS. “Parents are the key decision makers for their children, and by not being present, they are denied the right to be informed of the nature and risks of critical treatments.”

The CPS and the APQ recognizes the challenging work of transport teams operating under considerable stress with limited access to support. However, this should not preclude family presence during air transport. There is a better way. We call on the Québec government to swiftly reverse this antiquated policy. 

About the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,300 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

Last updated: Feb 2 2018