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City ambulances continue to face delays: Katz

Increased funding to add ambulance meant to ease workload

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Winnipeg paramedics continue to wait upwards of one hour to unload patients to city emergency rooms.

This afternoon, city officials reiterated their pledge to spend more money for an additional ambulance for Winnipeg streets and hire 12 new paramedics to staff it.

The funding was included in the 2013 operating budget, released Wednesday. The budget also includes $659,500 more for the fire paramedic budget to add 10 new dispatch operators.

Mayor Sam Katz said city ambulances continue to face delays dropping off patients at local hospitals and the additional ambulance and staff will hopefully help ease the strain.

The city started to charge hospitals for excessive delays that left paramedics waiting to unload patients in April 2011. Initially, the city billed hospitals $113 per hour for every time paramedics waited more than 90 minutes. The threshold then dropped to 60 minutes.

Finance chairman Coun. Russ Wyatt said the plan was to eventually charge hospitals for delays more than 30 minutes, but hospital officials are resisting the idea due to the ongoing challenge of improving offload times.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Chief Reid Douglas said the average ambulance still waits 65 minutes to unload patients at emergency rooms.

"The amount of time being spent in hospitals is too long," Wyatt said.

The city's 2013 $920-million spending plan for all city programs and services calls for a 2.87 per cent property tax increase The funds from additional one per cent property tax increase -- for a total 3.87 per cent hike -- will go towards fixing local streets.

-- with file from Geoff Kirbyson

History

Updated on Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM CST: changes headline, adds byline, updates with complete writethru

2:44 PM: Clarification on the funding.

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