Red Cross to cover B.C. man’s $20,000 emergency airfare after evacuation

Evacuated to Whitehorse during wildfires but had to be flown to Vancouver for heart condition

A southern B.C. man’s $20,000 emergency airfare incurred during 2017’s wildfire season will be paid by the Red Cross.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says she is pleased to announce a resolution to the plight of 90-year-old Rudolph Dunst of Lone Butte.

Dunst and his 87-year-old wife were forced to evacuate during last summer’s wildfires. They were able to find accommodation in Whitehorse but he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with a heart condition. He required a procedure that could not be performed in Whitehorse and was airlifted to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver via Yukon Air.

This left Dunst with a $20,000 bill for emergency airfare.

According to Barnett, he approached her office on December 14 of last year and Dunst eventually spoke directly with a ministry official who told him that his transportation costs would not be covered because it was ‘out of province’ travel.

Barnett raised the matter twice during question period at the Legislature. Health minister Adrian Dix repeatedly gave assurances. Barnett then approached the Red Cross directly and advocated on behalf of Mr. Dunst. The Red Cross kindly agreed to cover the $20,000 bill for emergency airfare.

“I find it rather disturbing to have this poor man put through months of unnecessary distress,” said Barnett. “Why didn’t the minister act when he had the opportunity? It is only through a determined effort at the highest levels that finally brought this matter to a close. The health minister should be ashamed of himself.”

We reached out the the Red Cross and Health Minister Adrian Dix and are currently waiting to hear back. We will update the story when we do.


max.winkelman@100milefreepress.net

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