Life sucks, it’s not fair, shit happens…

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In late January, Johanne Montgomery couldn’t get up out of the recliner. A day later, still unable to get up – her husband called for an ambulance, and she was taken to hospital. The diagnosis was staggering, Stage 4 Cancer, throughout her bones. The cancer had turned her bones into swiss cheese, and two of her vertebrae had crumbled away, shrinking her nearly 4 inches and making movement near impossible.

Knowing that her time was short, very short, Johanne had only one wish – to come back to Wawa, to where most of her family is, including her daughter. Unfortunately, her body and health was too fragile to be driven – a medical flight was necessary.

And now the cracks turned into crevasses. Johanne and her husband, Scott Montgomery had struggled after the mill closed in Dubreuilville. They took a huge loss on their house when they finally found a buyer, and late last year took up residence in a fifth wheel trailer in Red Deer, Alberta.

That meant that when the diagnosis was made – Johanne was stranded, unable to return to where in her heart she called home. There is no provision for for Alberta residents to be flown to Ontario for medical care. From OHIP “Generally, to be continuously eligible for OHIP, a person must make their primary place of residence in Ontario and must be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any given 12-month period.” Their medical care status was in question – Alberta Resident or Ontario Resident?

Desperate to get her back to Ontario in the short time remaining, family members went to gofundme to help raise money for a flight. In the meantime, Scott took out an emergency loan $18,000, and arranged for a medical flight – Fox Flight Air Ambulance brought her back this week to the Lady Dunn Health Centre. She was in great spirits, but her body continues to fail.

It’s a difficult story, and navigating legislation is hard when you are at someone’s bedside 24/7. Scott questions, “Why couldn’t there have been help to get her home – she will never collect a pension, unemployment?”. Mike Mantha (MPP) has been asked to help. Perhaps in the future there can be help for these unusual cases, where one-time help is needed, the last time it would be needed.

Now, of course, one could say – they got themselves into this fine pickle. Why didn’t they make sure that they extra insurance to cover this kind of circumstance? Indeed, this could serve as a caution to the many mobile workers who may be stretching the rules by working out of province. Be sure to check your coverage; your residency, an apartment in Alberta and one in Ontario… which one is your permanent residence? Make sure that you do not fall into such a crevasse.

Johanne was happy and healthy at Christmas, one month later, her family was fighting to bring her home. She is here now – and family say she is smiling.

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