Broten to fix the worst ambulance fees in Canada

NDP Leader Cam Broten says he’ll fix the worst ambulance-fee system in Canada by ending charges for transfers between facilities, and ending the outrageous per-kilometre charges patients pay.

Broten announced that pledge in Regina Saturday. Saskatchewan is the only province that charges people for ambulance transfers between facilities, and one of only two that applies a per-kilometre charge on top of the basic charge.  

“A massive bill shouldn’t be a part of health care,” said Broten. “I think of Sara Bucsis-Gunn’s family. She was forced to make tough choices – rushing their precious little girl, Leandra, to the hospital while she turned blue in the back seat, or even driving her from one hospital to another on an air mattress in the back of the minivan.

“They did those things because the outrageous cost of ambulances in Saskatchewan was piling up for their family. Sara and her husband were left to struggle with $7,000 in ambulance bills while they grieved the death of their daughter.”

Broten said the Sask. Party’s response to ambulance-fee struggles has been awful.

When asked by Bucsis-Gunn why the government can’t do more for families with the cost of ambulance trips, Sask. Party Rural Health minister Greg Ottenbriet said: “There’s always people jumping up to, you know, want to help and do a steak fundraiser or whatever and to help with health costs and stuff.”

The NDP Leader called that comment disgusting.

“Looking to your friends and neighbours to help you through a tough time – that’s the Saskatchewan way,” he said. “But you shouldn’t have to rely on your friends and neighbours for the funds to give your child access to health care.

“This election is about priorities, and health care without breaking the bank for families is one of mine.”

About half of Saskatchewan people say they would delay calling an ambulance because of the cost, according to an EKOS poll conducted for CBC.

The basic pick-up charge for an ambulance in Saskatchewan is between $245 and $325. The cost of the per-kilometre charge has been raised to $2.30 by the Sask. Party. The cost of eliminating both the per-kilometer charge and all costs for transfers between facilities is $18 million per year.

Read the details here.