Manitoba

Manitoba may close loophole that slaps price on ambulance transfers from Birth Centre

The Manitoba government is thinking of closing a loophole that forces patients transferred from the Birth Centre to pay for their ambulance ride to another health-care facility.

Health Minister promises to address issue of transfers between facilities

The Manitoba government is planning to address a loophole that forces patients to pay for "medically necessary" ambulance rides from the Birth Centre in south Winnipeg. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

The Manitoba government is thinking of closing a loophole that forces patients transferred from Winnipeg's Birth Centre to pay for their ambulance ride to another health-care facility.

The government covers the cost of "medically necessary" ambulance transfers between facilities, but the out-of-hospital Birth Centre, which opened in 2011, has never been listed among the approved health-care facilities, the province said on Thursday.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the government will look at changing that.

"The fact the birthing centre doesn't qualify under this policy is an issue that can be addressed," he said in a prepared statement, stating ongoing discussions between health care leaders and staff will be "helpful in this regard."

The Manitoba Liberals drew attention to the fee discrepancy this week when the party obtained an invoice that showed a transfer from the birthing centre to St. Boniface Hospital cost $340. 

The party accused the Progressive Conservatives of making a buck on a previously free service, but the government said the policy has not changed.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister introduces himself to a few paramedics at an April announcement confirming that the government would keep its election promise to cut the price of an ambulance ride in half. (Ian Froese/CBC)

The Tories have made slashing ambulance fees a priority.

They promised in 2016 to cut ambulance charges, which averaged $500, in half. They cut the prices in stages, but made good on their promise last month.

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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