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Saskatchewan man says ambulance ride too costly to take

Saskatchewan’s Thomas Winacott, who has cancer, says he declined an ambulance ride over the cost.
Saskatchewan’s Thomas Winacott, who has cancer, says he declined an ambulance ride over the cost. File / Global News

SASKATOON – A Saskatchewan man with pancreatic cancer says he declined an ambulance transfer two weeks ago because he still owed money for a previous ride. Thomas Winacott, 64, said he needed to get from Maidstone to the Battleford Union Hospital, but caught a ride with a family member.

The Lashburn man says he was still waiting for a $1,500 bill from an earlier ambulance ride from Swift Current to Saskatoon’s St. Paul Hospital.

The Opposition NDP raised his story while once again calling on the Saskatchewan government to change its ambulance fee structure and provide transfers for free.

READ MORE: Costly ambulance rides a ‘hardship’ for Sask. families

The New Democrats said in a release that the province has the highest ambulance fees in the country and charges per-kilometre rates without limits.

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Health critic Danielle Chartier says the cost of transfers could be covered with money the government is using to pay a U.S. law firm to push for the Keystone pipeline in Washington, D.C.

“Of the approximate $4 million that it would cost for inter-hospital transfers, it’s the same price that taxpayers are paying for this premier’s American lobbyist,” Chartier said.

Winacott said he “just about flipped” when he got his bill for $1553.20.