Winnipeg’s mayor said the city will be out millions if the province moves ahead with a plan to freeze ambulance funding to 2016 levels.
Mayor Brian Bowman said Wednesday that he received a letter from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority last week saying the province is changing the way they fund ambulance services. He said it’s just another example of the province passing their financial troubles to the City of Winnipeg.
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Bowman said the move will freeze provincial funding levels at what they were in 2016, which would mean a shortfall every year until 2020.
“This will create significant financial issues for the city,” Bowman said. “The increases in cost due to inflation and other pressures will be solely on Winnipeg taxpayers.”
According to the city’s budget, the decision could mean a $2.5 million shortfall for the city next year, and a $7.3 million hit in 2020.
“Like transit, the provincial government appears to have unilaterally abandoned a long standing city-provincial cost sharing agreement,” Bowman said.
“Health care is a provincial responsibility and it seems odd to me for the province to be backing out of an agreement to fund a service the city provides on their behalf.”
In Winnipeg, 50 per cent of ambulance costs currently come from the patient, while the WRHA and the city split the remaining price tag.
The WRHA and the province insist they provided the city with a multi-million dollar funding increase in 2016, and say that should be enough to last.
“This isn’t a blank check,” health minister Kelvin Goertzen said Wednesday. “We expect financial responsibility on our side and I’m sure they expect it on their side too.
“There’s only one taxpayer.”
The province said no impact on service — or on its user price tag — is expected.