With the support of close to 20 organizations, Médecins québécois pour le régime public (MQRP) has publicly added its voice to the #aHand2Hold campaign to denounce the fact that children continue to be transported alone, without caregivers, to tertiary-care pediatric facilities in urban settings for critical treatment on Challenger air-ambulance planes, under the responsibility of Évacuations aéromédicales du Québec, or ÉVAQ (our press release is available online, in French only).  MQRP is now calling on groups and individuals to contact Premier Philippe Couillard’s office today to denounce this unjust practice.

This long-standing situation has made headlines since January. On February 15, 2018, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette announced to the press that this practice would finally come to an end. He noted that it would take several weeks to put the required measures in place. However, months have now passed and children continue to be systematically evacuated alone; caregivers are bewildered as to why they continue to be prevented from boarding the Challenger.

Although all children transported aboard ÉVAQ’s Challenger air-ambulance face this problem, Indigenous children are disproportionately impacted by this practice. The children of Nunavik are especially affected, since their communities are not linked by road, nor are they connected by road to southern Québec. For decades, young Indigenous children were torn away from their families, often by plane, and placed in residential schools or foster homes. It is all the more unacceptable to separate parents and children given this colonial reality. 

By means of a letter endorsed by almost 20 groups, MQRP is calling on the Premier to officially and immediately announce the implementation of a “Hand to Hold” policy, which would ensure caregiver accompaniment as standard practice. 

 We demand that the government:

-provide an exact date for this policy’s implementation to the public; 

-ensure that the wording of the policy be public and precise;

-offer caregiver accompaniment of children as the default option to families;

-implement a policy that is transparent, with clear lines of responsibility and accountability;

-judiciously maintain accessible statistics of all paediatric medical evacuations, clearly indicating if the child was accompanied, and providing a justification if not (such cases should be rare).

We therefore call on individuals and organizations to contact the Premier’s office in large numbers (by email, fax and telephone) today and in the coming days to highlight the popular support for a “Hand to Hold” policy and the above demands. You can show your support by using #aHand2Hold and #TiensMaMain on social media. A sample letter and the contact info for the Premier’s office are available online.

The current situation cannot be allowed to continue. We hope for a prompt resolution to this sombre history of aeromedical evacuations in Quebec.

In solidarity,


The board of administrators of Médecins québécois pour le régime public (MQRP)