FREDERICTON – People in New Brunswick not covered by a private health plan will no longer have to pay an ambulance fee starting April 1.
The provincial health budget released Thursday scraps the $130 fee charged to uninsured New Brunswickers.
Health Minister Hugh (Ted) Flemming said Friday that 70 per cent of New Brunswickers are covered by private health insurance. The elderly and poor are also already exempt from paying the fee.
To pay for the remaining 20 per cent who are not currently covered, the province will spend $600,000.
Opposition health critic Donald Arseneault said it’s another election announcement from a government that’s been “spending like drunken sailors.”
Former New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord had scrapped the fee in 2004.
It was the Shawn Graham Liberal government that re-installed the fee in 2009, citing people who abused the system and used the service as a “taxi cab.”
“If that happens, we’ll be watching,” said Flemming. “Do you not do the right thing because one per cent of the people might abuse it? Is that a reason for not doing right?
“If something appears to be abusive…I’ll deal with it quickly and swiftly. You can be assured of that.”