Report on transfer of ambulance services breaks down ‘complex and intricate’ relationship
Published Wednesday, April 11, 2018 5:41PM CST
A newly-released report lays out what it would take for the operation of ambulance services to change hands from the city to the province.
City of Winnipeg finance chair Scott Gillingham asked for the report in December, after the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) capped funding for ambulance services.
“It’s important that we get that resolved,” said Gillingham.
“But again, that’s part of the discussions between Mayor Bowman and the ministers of the province.”
According to the report, without additional funding or a change in service levels, the city is looking at a funding shortfall of $4.6 million in 2018.
Both Gillingham and John Lane, chief of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, stressed that the city has a lengthy and developed history of providing ambulance services.
“The relationship is complex and intricate. We’ve been in a relationship to provide service since 1996 with the WRHA and now Shared Health. That’s a 22-year relationship,” said Lane.
While Lane said the window for talks was growing narrower, he stressed that he was working to reassure employees who might be concerned by the report.
“We absolutely value the service in the configuration that it’s in,” said Lane.
Shared Health is a new entity created by the province, to centralize some functions carried out by regional health authorities across Manitoba.
The report looks at the logistics of the WRHA and Shared Health taking over ambulance services, from a breakdown of assets, to how calls could be dispatched in a system that’s fully integrated with fire services.
Also within the report — word that roughly 350 jobs would no longer be needed by the city with the transition of services.
The report concludes that those jobs would depend on how the WRHA and Shared Health choose to run ambulance services.
Responding to the report, Manitoba General Employees’ Union President Michelle Gawronsky said paramedics “deserved better”, and called on both levels of government to resolve the issue.
“That should have not been in there. That veiled threat that there’s going to be job losses for paramedics,” said Gawronsky.
“They need to stop bouncing it back and forth between the two of them. Let’s make sure the funding is there.”
The province said talks were ongoing, and called them “positive to this point.”
Meanwhile, both Shared Health and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service are assuring residents that services won’t be disrupted.
A spokesperson for Shared Health wrote via email:
“Shared Health continues to engage in positive and collaborative discussions with the City of Winnipeg. We recognize the value of the integrated model and remain committed to ensuring timely and professional emergency medical services remain available to those who need them.”
The report is set to go before the city’s Executive Policy Committee in a week.