Published Feb 27, 2008Traveling Ontario musicians best measure their words with care when dealing with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Owen Pallett, aka Final Fantasy, recently had his health card revoked when he casually answered questions about his work while attempting to get his coverage renewed. Mentioning his busy touring and recording schedule outside Ontario gave the Health Ministry reason to believe Pallett to be ineligible for OHIP coverage on grounds that his time in Ontario didn't meet the minimum requirement of 153 days in any 12-month period.
According to a posting made by Pallett on Stillepost.ca, after his card was revoked, he "went back, very distraught with some friends and a notarised document, my high school yearbooks and diploma. I brought 12 months of cell phone records and Interac purchases to prove that I had been in Toronto for 'a lot' of the last year, if not a total of five months worth. Pathetic, perhaps, and it didn't work. I don't have a lease agreement, or own a car, or have any way to prove (legally) that I'm an Ontario resident."
So what advice does Mr. Fantasy have for other Ontario natives potentially facing a similar problem?
"If you travel for work, lie, lie, lie."
Yesterday morning, Trinity-Spadina MPP Rosario Marchese and NDP Critic for Health and Long-Term Care, France Gelinas, sent a letter to George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, urging "immediate intervention to help Owen Pallett".
Pointing out that Pallett should be exempt from the 153 day requirement according to Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act because his Ontario absences were for employment purposes, Marchese and Gelinas call the Ministry's hasty decision to revoke the award-winning musician's health insurance "inappropriate and unnecessary," and finish their bid of support saying, "The public should never fear that their access to health care can so easily be revoked. Owen deserves to have his OHIP coverage immediately reinstated".
Let's hope the appeal process proves that Final Fantasy has as good a home as the title of his first album suggests.