02/05/2015 01:21 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT

Ottawa man dying of cancer seeks retroactive Ontario health care coverage

OTTAWA - The daughter of a 79-year-old Canadian man is asking the Ontario government to grant her dying father heath insurance coverage retroactive to early November, even though he's lived outside of Canada for years.

Early last November, John Holt, a former military pilot and federal civil servant, returned to Ottawa and found out he had terminal cancer.

Doctors have waived their fees, and the continuing care home where he is staying says it won't charge for his care until provincial health care coverage kicks in Friday.

But he's still left with $61,000 in charges for tests and his semi-private room at the Ottawa Hospital.

His daughter, Caroline, says he paid his taxes during all the years he lived abroad, so he's not trying to take advantage of Ontario's health care system.

The family lost a claim before the OHIP Eligibility Review Committee, and is now taking the case to the independent Health Services Appeal and Review Board.

In the more than 200 cases heard by the board, not one appeal has been granted.

"I don't understand it," Holt's daughter said of her father's case. "There has to be some room for compassion there."