Travel & accommodation assistance
We understand that making travel arrangements to receive health care treatment can be difficult for patients and their families. Below are a range of helpful services.
Airlines often offer services for people flying who have special requirements including the need for a companion when travelling. Please contact the specific airline for information.
BC Bus Pass program
Low income seniors and persons with disabilities can get an annual bus pass at a reduced cost through the BC Bus Pass program. This pass can be used on both BC Transit and TransLink systems throughout the province. HandyDart is not included in this program.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) communities serviced by TransLink or BC Transit include: Bella Coola, Brackendale, Burt Bridge, Firvale, Four Mile House, Garibaldi Highlands, Gibsons, Glacierview, Gower Point, Hagensborg, Halfmoon Bay, Lund, Metro Vancouver, Mount Currie, Pemberton, Pemberton Valley, Powell River, Roberts Creek, Saltery Bay, Sea to Sky, Sechelt, Shelter Point, Sliammon, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Texada, Valleycliffe, Vananda, Whistler and Xit'Olacw.
Or call 1 (866) 866-0800 for more information
BC Family Residence Program
The BC Family Residence Program provides accommodation assistance to help families stay together when their child requires medical care at BC Children's Hospital or Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, including premature babies and newborns. Air transportation can also be provided for patients of all ages.
Medical Assured Loading (MAL) is a BC Ferries program offered to people who need to travel to and from a critical medical appointment by personal vehicle and cannot wait at the terminal for long periods of time as it would be a risk to their health.
Extended medical benefits
Individuals (and spouses if required as medical escort) may be eligible for assistance with treatment travel costs through their private extended health benefit plans. We recommend that you consult with your health benefits provider to see if you are covered.
First Nations Health Authority Medical Transportation Benefit
Medical transportation benefits help people access medically necessary health services outside their communities of residence by providing funding for meals, accommodation and transportation as needed.
Fuel tax rebate for persons with disabilities
If you have a permanent mobility impairment and can't safely use public transportation, you may qualify for a refund on the B.C. fuel tax you pay on fuel used in a vehicle you own or lease.
HandyDART is a door-to-door, shared ride service for passengers with physical or cognitive disabilities who are unable to use conventional public transit without assistance. It's available in Metro Vancouver and some rural communities including Powell River, Squamish and the Sunshine Coast.
Health Connections offers subsidized transportation options to help cover costs for rural residents who must travel outside their home communities for non-emergency, physician-referred medical care.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) focuses its Health Connections funding on the Central Coast and Bella Coola Valley. Bella Coola Valley Health Services has established a local HandyDART bus service to provide transportation to medical appointments, adult day programs, foot clinics and more.
Bella Coola Valley Health Services also covers 100% of medically required air travel for patients from the Central Coast through purchase of discounted tickets from Pacific Coastal Airlines. Escorts are required to pay for their own transportation.
Heiltsuk Health Centre Patient Transportation
The medical transportation program helps ensure that eligible Heiltsuk Health Centre clients have access to medically-required services not available within their community. While it covers some costs, it does not pay for all costs that may be associated with a client's medical condition and travel requirements.
To determine eligibility, you must provide the following documentation: a referral from a GP, family physician or other health professional and confirmation of appointment from the health provider/health facility.
Hope Air is a national charity that provides free air travel, hotel accommodation, ground transportation and meal subsidies, for patients and escorts in financial need, travelling to access medical care. For eligibility and application support, please call 1-877-346-4673 or visit our website.
Medical Travel Accommodation Listings
The Medical Travel Accommodation Listing program offers accommodations at discounted rates to patients requiring out-of-town medical services and their accompanying family members. Patients and their family are responsible for the total room cost.
On the website, enter the name of the city where you want to stay and you'll receive a list of available accommodations. When you book a room, be sure to request a medical rate.
Travel Assistance Program (TAP)
The Ministry of Health's TAP offers travel discounts to B.C. residents who must travel for non-emergency medical appointments outside their own community and whose travel expenses are not covered by third party insurance or other government programs.
To be eligible, you must be a B.C. resident enrolled in the Medical Services Plan (MSP)and have a physician's referral for medical services that are not available locally. Escorts are also eligible if travelling with those who need assistance. TAP forms are available from your family doctor, specialist's office, or a cancer centre.
Phone: (604) 683-7151 (Vancouver)
Toll-free: 1 (800) 663-7100 (elsewhere in B.C.)
Vehicle insurance discounts
If you lease or own your vehicle and are considered to be a person with a disability under the Motor Fuel Tax Act, you may be eligible for a 25% discount on Basic Autoplan insurance. You must have a Motor Fuel Tax claim number when applying for the insurance discount and only $400 per year can be claimed.