City, Province Near Ambulance Funding Agreement

A years-long dispute over Winnipeg ambulance funding appears close to resolution.

The city has at times accused the province of delaying ambulance funding payments when the two sides could not agree on a new contract.

But a finalized deal is expected soon, according to a new financial report from the city.

“A contract is currently undergoing review processes within the City of Winnipeg and Shared Health, with the expectation that an agreement will be available for signature by the end of the first quarter of 2022,” says The report.

An agreement on how the city provides the emergency health service on behalf of the province was sought to settle a protracted funding dispute between the two levels of government.

The City of Winnipeg threatened to withdraw ambulance services after learning in November 2017 that the province would freeze its share of funding. The arrangement at that time was for patients to pay 50% of the cost, Manitoba to cover 25%, and the city to pay the final 25%.

The city council later approved an appeal to ensure the city only provides the service to the province “on a full cost recovery basis.”

The last contract expired in 2016, before being briefly extended until 2017.

The financial report notes that the city was negotiating an agreement guaranteeing that it would provide ambulance service at no municipal cost. Other details of the potential contract are not disclosed.

Com. Scott Gillingham praised the progress.

“I am delighted to hear that the city and the province are on the verge of reaching a new agreement. I have requested a new ambulance contract which reflects full cost recovery since the previous agreement expired more than five years ago,” the chairman of the council’s finance committee said.

Gillingham said the deal is key to ensuring Winnipeg ratepayers are no longer at risk of having to cover any shortfall in provincial funding for ambulance services.

“We have moved to a cost recovery model, so property taxpayers will no longer subsidize health care,” he said.

In an email, a spokesperson for Shared Health confirmed that the provincial agency was working to “finalize” a new ambulance funding agreement, but declined to comment further.

“While we are optimistic a long-term agreement is within reach which will benefit both parties, we will postpone comment until it is complete and signed,” the spokesperson said.

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Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves telling the stories of this city, especially when it comes to politics. Joyanne became a reporter at City Hall for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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