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Provinces working to resolve new mother’s air ambulance bill

Kendra Mangione, CTVNews.ca 

The Ontario and Alberta governments are working together to resolve a hefty bill handed to a mother after prematurely giving birth in northern Ontario.

Amy Savill, from High Prairie, Alta., was vacationing in Ontario last month when she unexpectedly went into labour two months before her due date.

Her family initially took her to a hospital in the northern Ontario city of Timmins, where she was told that staff were not equipped to handle births under 32 weeks. An air ambulance was arranged to take her to Sudbury, at an estimated cost between $10,000 and $30,000. Savill received the bill on Monday, but hasn’t disclosed the exact amount, saying only that “it’s in the thousands of dollars.”

Savill initially thought one of the provincial governments would pick up the tab, but she discovered she was on the hook for the cost of the pilots, paramedics, and the helicopter itself.

“My first concern is for the mom and the baby. I’m happy that both are doing well,” Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins told CTV Toronto at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

Hoskins said, when he first heard about the incident he asked his chief of staff to get in touch with the Alberta Ministry of Health.

“We’re working together to see how we might find a resolution,” Hoskins said.

He said he’s “hopeful” that Savill will not have to pay the bill.

Savill told CTV Northern Ontario that she’d heard from the office of the Alberta health minister since receiving the bill. She said the minister asked to see a copy of her bills, and told her that the ministry was working with Hoskins to find a solution.

“They haven’t guaranteed anything, but they wanted to at least take a look at it,” Savill said Wednesday.

For his part, Hoskins said Savill’s case will be raised at the next provincial and territorial meeting.

“It speaks to a bigger issue, a Canadian issue, of insuring that Canadians of any province or territory can have confidence when they travel throughout the country.”

Savill said the Alberta minister told her there may be some federal policy changes coming as a result of her case.

“We’re really proud to have brought that forward. I think they maybe weren’t even aware that it was an issue before,” Savill said, adding that she looks forward to telling the story to her newborn daughter when she grows up.

“Hopefully, one day she can look back and realize her crazy entrance into this world has brought some good change, so other people don’t have to go through this hard time that we’re having right now.”

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