New issues over ambulance service contracts between Winnipeg, province

WINNIPEG — Winnipeg’s mayor said additional issues between the province and the City of Winnipeg have arisen over ambulance contracts, including a provision regarding the collection of ambulance fees.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Brian Bowman said in the finance committee agenda, there is a report saying Shared Health is asking the city to make cuts that total almost $2 million to its ambulance services.

“If the province wishes to cut their service, as I mentioned before, that is their prerogative, it’s their jurisdiction to be responsible for health care in the Province of Manitoba,” Bowman said. “As the contracted service provider, the city delivers the service the province wants to provide.”

Bowman said Shared Health will give guidance on $1.5 million of the cuts, but the city has not yet received guidance on those cuts.

Shared Health has indicated they will no longer cover the bill for Indigenous Services Canada rejections.

“What that means is First Nations and Inuit patients that used to have their unpaid ambulance bills covered by the province will no longer receive this support,” he said. “This also means the province will be attempting to make the city responsible for these ambulance costs, because the city is, as they require, the one that collects the bills.”

Bowman said the change is a concern, saying it is an attempt to impose the cost of ambulance ride collection on city taxpayers. The report said the change could add $300,000 to EMS costs for the city.

“This is not a contract that was negotiated, this is just unilateral that we are expected to really chase people down to have those bills paid,” he said. “This is a significant change. While it may not be a large dollar figure for provincial or municipal governments, for the individuals affected, it’s a significant change.”

Bowman added the city will keep pressing for transparency and clarity from the province over ambulance services and said there are currently no negotiations ongoing regarding ambulance service contracts.

CTV News has reached out to the province for more information.

This is a developing story. More to come. 

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