Saskatchewan’s regional health authorities (RHAs) will be allowed to increase ambulance fees, under new provincial ambulance fee guidelines. The new maximum basic call fee may be increased by $25. It is the first adjustment to ambulance fee guidelines since 2006. Fees for seniors aged 65 and over will continue to be capped at $250 per ambulance trip.
RHAs will be allowed to increase the basic call pick up fee to $325 in centres that provide 24-hour advanced paramedic level services, to reflect higher staffing costs. Those centres include Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Nipawin and Spiritwood. Ambulance operators in other areas of the province will be able to charge a maximum basic fee of $245 per call. In addition to the basic fee, residents may be charged a per-kilometre fee.
“Patients remain our foremost concern as we work to improve emergency medical services,” Health Minister Don McMorris said. “We want to ensure that all residents have access to viable, stable ambulance service, regardless of where they live. This change will help ambulance operators attract and keep qualified health professionals, and ensure that vehicles and equipment are well-maintained and safe.”
The distance charge for ambulance service will also be allowed to increase $0.10 per kilometre, to a maximum of $2.30 per kilometre. Waiting time charges will remain the same.
The province will continue to provide financial assistance to seniors and lower-income earners to help cover the cost of ambulance services. Costs can be eliminated or reduced through the Senior Citizens’ Ambulance Assistance Program, Supplementary Health Benefits program and the Family Health Benefits program, which covers children who require emergency transport. Residents may also purchase private insurance plans.
Ambulance services are not insured in Saskatchewan. The province subsidizes the cost of ambulance services by providing more than $50 million annually to RHAs, which operate or contract for services. The remainder of costs are covered by patient fees.