Mayoral candidate Klein promises to rev up paramedics response

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Mayoral candidate Kevin Klein is pledging, if elected, to improve ambulance wait times by introducing new paramedic units focused on low-priority calls.

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Mayoral candidate Kevin Klein is pledging, if elected, to improve ambulance wait times by introducing new paramedic units focused on low-priority calls.

The plan would build on the existing emergency paramedics in the community program, which addresses non-emergency calls, he said Wednesday.

The new units would be made up of advanced care paramedics, who would respond in SUVs, rather than ambulances or fire vehicles.

Kevin Klein believes building tiny homes could help the city deal with the housing crisis. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Klein said the move would allow firefighter paramedics to focus on fires, fire prevention and acute calls such as cardiac arrests, vehicle collisions and scenes with multiple injures.

Ryan Woiden, president of Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union Local 911, backed Klein’s plan at a news conference — but said the union isn’t endorsing any single civic candidate.

“It’s an appropriate response to the appropriate patient and giving them the appropriate destination,” Woiden said of the plan and existing program.

Klein would not reveal the potential price tag, instead claiming the money would come from provincial Shared Health funding meant for medical services currently being diverted to the fire department.

However, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service spokeswoman Erin Madden said none of the funding provided by Shared Health for the community paramedic program is diverted to fire and rescue operations.

Shared Health covers 100 per cent of city emergency medical costs, including community paramedicine, she said.

The 2022 budget for community paramedicine operating expenses, including the emergency paramedics in the community program, was $3.098 million.

On Wednesday, Klein accused fellow mayoral candidate Glen Murray of promising to break the WFPS into two separate departments to get an endorsement from the firefighters union, amid long-simmering tensions between the two sides of the service.

More than a week after the union endorsed Murray in July, the candidate said he would do a governance review “given the desire of paramedics and firefighters to operate out of separate stations.”

United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg president Tom Bilous said Klein’s “allegations of horse-trading are completely false.”

“If that were true, we would’ve endorsed Klein, because he was all too-willing, ‘Oh, we could get the paramedics out of the halls no problem, first order of business,’” Bilous said, accusing Klein of doing what he had accused Murray of.

Meantime, at city hall Wednesday morning, Murray became the first of the 15 registered mayoral candidates to file nomination papers.

The nomination period began at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, and requires each registered candidate for mayor to provide at least 250 signatures of eligible voters to qualify. The deadline to complete the process — and secure a place on the Oct. 26 ballot — is Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

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More than a week after the union endorsed Glen Murray in July, the candidate said he would do a governance review “given the desire of paramedics and firefighters to operate out of separate stations.”

Elsewhere, mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk promised, if elected, to remove lingering barricades from city streets and “ensure” roads aren’t blocked off when construction work isn’t taking place.

In a release, Motkaluk also said she would “require” firm timelines to make sure contractors do their work as efficiently as possible, including measuring and minimizing the number of days roads under repair are closed.

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Don Woodstock pledged, if elected, to create a city-owned facility to crush old concrete to be used in future road construction. He claimed the cost would be “just over” $1 million.

Woodstock’s promise comes after he was threatened by a lawyer retained by Bayview Construction Ltd. with a defamation suit last week, over comments he made about the local construction industry in reference to Motkaluk’s brother, who’s a vice-president of the company.

Elsewhere, candidate Shaun Loney had planned to hold an evening community forum on safety and homelessness at the Norwood Hotel.

Loney said, after talking to Winnipeg voters, he found safety and homelessness were their No. 1 issue.

— with files from Joyanne Pursaga

erik.pindera@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @erik_pindera

Erik Pindera

Erik Pindera
Reporter

Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.

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