Saskatchewan NDP pledges to cut 'taxi-like' ambulance fees

NDP Leader Cam Broten announced Saturday that if elected, he will cut ambulance transfer fees and the per kilometre charge.

Says an NDP government would end transfer and per kilometre fees

NDP Leader Cam Broten says an NDP government would cut 'taxi-like' ambulance fees. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Cam Broten announced Saturday that if elected, he will change how ambulance fees are handled in the province. 

Broten made the announcement in Regina, where he took aim at the current government for charging patients by the kilometre and for transfers between facilities. 

We should not have these types of bills associated with the basic care and the emergency care that people need.- Cam Broten, Saskatchewan NDP leader

He said the province has the worst ambulance fee system in the country.

"This is fundamental to people accessing the care that they need. We should not have these types of bills associated with the basic care and the emergency care that people need," Broten said. 

Currently patients pay $2.30 per kilometre for ambulance rides, as well as between $245 and $325 for a basic ambulance fee, Broten said.   

Ambulance fees in Canada vary from province to province. In Ontario, the cost to take an ambulance is $45. In Alberta, getting taken to the hospital by ambulance costs $385, or $250 if treated on scene.   

Under an NDP government, Broten said both would go.  

"Ending the charges for transfers between facilities and ending the taxi-like ticker charges as the meter keeps going and going," he said. 

The move would cost the government $18 million per year.

Rural town hall 

The NDP said the per-kilometre fee disproportionately affects rural residents who must be transferred to city hospitals for care.

Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit, meanwhile, said the SaskParty stands proudly by its record on healthcare, which he said is a stark contrast to that of the previous NDP government.

Ottenbreit reassured residents of the Craik, Sask., area, where a town hall-style meeting on rural health was held Saturday, about the future of the community's health facility. 

He said there were never plans to remove a full-time doctor and he turned the tables back on the NDP, who have their own record of closing facilities. 

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