Manitoba

Manitoba election: NDP pledge to lower ambulance, hospital parking fees

Manitoba's New Democrats say they'll work to reduce ambulance fees and hospital parking rates if elected April 19.

Greg Selinger promises more subsidized parking for patients with chronic illnesses

RAW: NDP promise to reduce ambulance, hospital parking rates in Manitoba

6 years ago
Duration 2:27
Manitoba's New Democrats say they'll work to reduce ambulance fees and hospital parking rates if elected April 19.

Manitoba's New Democrats say they'll make ambulance rides and parking at hospitals more affordable if elected this spring.

"We're going to have a one-price-for-all approach for all of Manitoba ambulance fees," NDP Leader Greg Selinger said Monday.

Selinger said his party would spend $20 million to bring down the cost of parking in provincially owned hospital parkades and lots.

"The charges can pile up very quickly," he said. "We're going to work with all the hospitals in Winnipeg to reduce the pressure of parking charges when you have to visit somebody in the hospital."

It costs $4 an hour to park at any of the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre's five parkades between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m, or $12 to $17 to park for the day. At St. Boniface Hospital's five parkades, it costs $4.50 an hour or $13 to $14 for the day to park from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The NDP said its plan would also see to the creation of more subsidized parking and transportation options for people with chronic illnesses that require frequent trips to hospitals. The plan would build on the current CancerCare Manitoba model introduced in 2014 by the provincial government, the party said.

Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, former president and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba, said he supports the NDP's plan.

"As a physician, I have seen the burden that parking has, both financial and emotional," Dhaliwal said. "Patients are constantly worrying about the meter expiring and the car being towed away.

"On a number of occasions, I have personally paid to stop the car being towed away because I happen to be there, because [of] the hassle of collecting your car after you've been treated."

Cut ambulance fees in half

The NDP promised to cut ambulance fees in half province-wide and put an end to a per-kilometre fee currently charged to rural and northern Manitoba patients. The new model would be integrated with the Manitoba Pharmacare program, Selinger said.

"Once you hit a certain expense level, according to your income, the cost of service is eliminated and you get the ambulance when you need it, without having to worry about whether you can find the money," Selinger said.

As a cost-saving measure, Selinger added, the NDP will double funding for the Emergency Paramedic in the Community (EPIC) program, which is designed to prevent unnecessary trips to the hospital among people who frequently use ambulances. EPIC has already reduced the demand on emergency services by 60 per cent, Selinger said.
Greg Selinger said Monday the NDP will reduce ambulance fees and hospital parking rates if elected. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

"It's about doing things more effectively right in the community with advanced paramedics," he said.

Selinger warned a Brian Pallister-led PC government could lead to a two-tiered health-care system resembling models in the U.S.

The announcement came after the Progressive Conservatives repeated party promises to cut emergency room wait times and reduce ambulance fees in the province last week.

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