Winnipeg ambulances continue to be delayed at city emergency departments.

Paramedics must sit with patients in emergency rooms while they wait for care.

“We continue to see a bottleneck on the frontline where we’re waiting four, five stretchers deep with patients that need to be seen,” said Ryan Woiden from Paramedics of Winnipeg.

For delays longer than 60 minutes, the City of Winnipeg charges the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority $119 per hour.

A city report said in 2014, the city billed the WRHA for more than 13,900 hours at a cost of $1.6 million.

That’s up from 2013 when 12,500 hours cost $1.4 million.

“In the course of the whole year, it’s too much. It has to come down,” said Coun. Jeff Browaty, the city’s protection chair.

But the WRHA said current strategies are showing promise. The report showed the times no ambulance was available dropped from 38 hours in 2013 to 24.7 in 2014.

“We’re actually seeing stabilization of our off-load delays,” said Helen Clark from the WRHA.

The health authority and the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service are working on what they call long-term strategies to curb the problem.

One solution would see patients with minor problems sent to less busy emergency departments.

Another option would have those patients with mild issues wait at home while receiving care, until an emergency room has space for them.

- with a report from Jeff Keele