Province supports cost-free flights for medical services in East Kootenays
People throughout the East Kootenays will have continued access to health-care services in Kelowna through cost-free travel with the Province providing $300,000 to support Angel Flight East Kootenay (AFEK).
“Ensuring everyone living in B.C. receives the health care they deserve is a team effort, and that’s why we continue to work with partners like AFEK who make it easier for patients to access care throughout the East Kootenays by removing obstacles associated with travel,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “I’d also like to recognize MLA Clovechuk and the Regional District of East Kootenay for their ongoing support towards this initiative and those who worked so hard to promote the important work AFEK does. Our government remains committed to putting people first and we appreciate AFEK for helping us in that endeavour.”
The Province is supporting East Kootenay residents so they can access non-emergency medical services and treatment centres in Kelowna by investing in the volunteer-led charitable organization that provides flights at no cost to residents, including cancer patients and children with a care giver. The funding is a part of a pilot project to support AFEK and will help cover the organization’s increasing long-term operating costs.
“The Cessna 414A plane has made a huge impact by making our flights as safe and reliable as any carrier. In its first year of operations, we didn’t cancel a single flight due to weather,” said Brent Bidston, founder and board vice-chair, AFEK. “With support from the Province, we can improve the stability of our organization as well as increase our operating capacity, so more people in the East Kootenay area can access the health services they need with fewer obstacles.”
In 2022, the organization purchased an aircraft to reduce the possibility of weather-related flight cancelations and missed appointments. The number of patients flown grew from 110 in 2021 to 570 in 2022. The Province’s grant will support aircraft upgrades, maintenance and repairs, as well as annual programming and operations.
“We are looking to help improve the lives of rural and remote people in British Columbia by attaining enhanced access to health-care services,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health. “It is crucial to help patients from rural and remote communities get to health appointments not available in their home communities. That’s why our government remains committed to supporting organizations like Angel Flight East Kootenay that help improve access to health care in B.C.”
May 15, 2023
Government of BC