Manitoba trims ambulance rate to $425 but fee still highest in Canada

Vehicle fire on Gallagher Avenue sends 4 to hospital with burns

The Manitoba government is taking another incremental step toward keeping an election promise to slash ambulance fees.

As of April 1, the province is cutting another $50 from the rate, reducing it to $425 or the pre-existing base fee established by the service provider, if that's lower.

The province is also eliminating all surcharges, including the $3-per-kilometre rate currently added to the base fee.

This is the second time this year the province has made a $50 cut to the overall ambulance fee, which was $522 at one time. On Jan. 1, it went down to $475.

Despite the reduction, Manitoba's fees remain the highest in the country.

The lowest is in the Yukon, where there is no out-of-pocket charge to patients.

The fees range from $115 to $142 in most other provinces, while it varies in some places depending on medical necessity. In Ontario, the rate is $45 if medically necessary, $240 if not. In British Columbia, the cost is $50 if the patient is treated at the scene, or $80 if transported to hospital.

Those fees jump significantly in Alberta, where it's $250 if treated at the scene, $385 if transported to hospital, and Saskatchewan, where the fee is either $245 or $325 plus $2.30/km, depending on the health region.

Premier Brian Pallister, during the 2016 provincial election campaign, promised to cut Manitoba's ambulance fees in half. His government said it is still committed to reaching that 50 per cent goal by 2020.

The province has formed a working group with representatives from regional health authorities to work toward that target.