Learn more about the Drone Transport Initiative

Many rural and remote First Nations communities have unequal access to health care due to factors such as transportation constraints and challenges with recruiting and retaining health care providers. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown requirements worsened access issues in some communities. While virtual and telehealth services can fill some of this need, samples still need to be transported and tested.

New technologies present opportunities to deliver health services closer to home by allowing people to access health services in a timely way. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, is one possible solution. Drones can provide fast, reliable, and cost-effective transport for sample testing or pharmacy and medical supplies. Providing services via drone could means people in need of these services will no longer have to travel out of the community as frequently.

The Drone Transport Initiative (DTI) was established by the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine to study whether drone technology can be used to improve health care for rural and remote First Nations communities. In this pilot project, the DTI will transport items by drone between Stellaquo (Stellat’en First Nation) and the Village of Fraser Lake. This short and simple route will serve as a test case for how this technology could be scaled up to other contexts.

The study will be conducted in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc), and LifeLabs. Drone technology and services are being provided by Drone Delivery Canada (DDC). The study is funded by a grant from the TD Ready Challenge. Learn more about the Initiatives’s members.

The goal is for this project to serve as a model for the introduction of drone transport programs intended to enhance access to health care for everyone living in rural and remote communities, including First Nations communities.


Do you have any questions or comments regarding the Drone Transport Initiative?

Please read our FAQs. If you have any questions about the project, please contact Sandy Lee, Senior Project Manager, at sandy.lee@ubc.ca.


DTI was launched from a generous commitment from the 2020 TD Ready Challenge. Additional support has been provided by Canada, Canfor, LifeLabs, and Air Canada Foundation.