The New Brunswick government says sexual assault victims on Grand Manan Island will now have access to an air ambulance to take them to the mainland for treatment.

Until now, victims of sexual assault have had to wait for the ferry to take them to the mainland, and then drive an hour to the Saint John Regional Hospital in order to be seen by a sexual assault nurse examiner.

Sometimes victims had to wait overnight because the ferry had shut down for the evening.

“There are many problems associated with that,” said New Brunswick Justice Minister Andrea Anderson during a news conference Thursday.

“During that time period, for the preservation of evidence, they would have to refrain from brushing their teeth, from showering, changing their clothes, and you can imagine what kind of trauma that can cause for an individual who’s been a victim of sexual assault.”

Now, victims can go to the Grand Manan Hospital and request to be airlifted to the Saint John Regional Hospital so they can access the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program.

The change comes after two Grand Manan Island residents reported that they couldn’t access the SANE Program last year.

The province says it isn't certain how much the service will cost because it will be paid for on a case-by-case basis.

Atlantic Charters will be providing the service.