The most frustrating provincial regulation, as far as many northerners are concerned, involves medical emergencies. OHIP will cover the cost of an ambulance to take people to the nearest hospital (which can be hundreds of kilometres away). But they have to find their own way home. That might make sense in downtown Toronto, but in northern Ontario it leaves patients stranded. If they don’t have a relative or friend who can pick them up, the only way home is a taxi. The cab fare from the hospital in Dryden to the centre of Ignace is $210.

These three tales epitomized the gulf in understanding that exists between policy-makers at Queen’s Park and folks in northwestern Ontario for anti-poverty activist Mike Balkwill , a Torontonian who just completed a fact-finding tour of this harsh but beautiful part of the province.