March 26th, 2021

NDP introduces legislation to eliminate user fees for ambulances

HALIFAX - Despite writing off millions in uncollectable ambulance fees, the Liberal government is keeping the door open to increasing ambulance user fees. The Fitch report, released earlier this month, recommends increasing ambulance fees, and the Liberals have not clarified their position on the recommendation.

“When someone is having a medical emergency, the last thing they should have to worry about is how to pay the bill for an ambulance, or whether they can afford to call one at all,” said Susan Leblanc, NDP Health and Wellness spokesperson. “Public health care, like the emergency care needed when you call 911, shouldn’t cost people anything. Too many can’t afford $146.55 or more to get essential emergency care.”

The former NDP government brought in the Ambulance Fees Assistance Program in 2012. The program helps those with lower incomes cover the cost of ambulance services. The Liberals have not made any serious improvements to the program since being elected in 2013. Today, the NDP will table legislation that would build on this program and eliminate the fees for all medically necessary trips.

“When the government is forced to write off millions in uncollected ambulance fees in a single year, there is obviously a problem with the model,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “A core element of public health care is the elimination of user fees for medically necessary services. It’s clear that these fees create barriers for people.”

Last year, the province collected $14.3 million in ambulance fees.

The NDP will also introduce legislation to expand MSI coverage and provide a framework for patients to access telehealth with their physician on a permanent basis.