Marni Daun, her parents and her three young daughters were stopped at a red light on Main Street in January when the minivan they were driving was rear-ended.

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This article was published 18/3/2016 (2085 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Marni Daun, her parents and her three young daughters were stopped at a red light on Main Street in January when the minivan they were driving was rear-ended.

Daun's three daughters — Rayna, 4, Lacie, 7, and Livanna, 10 — were transported in a single ambulance to Children's Hospital, where they were treated for concussion symptoms.

A few weeks later, she received three separate bills in the mail. The total ambulance bill for transporting the three girls was more than $1,500.

Daun and her kids were on hand this morning as Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister decried high ambulance fees and vowed to cut them in half.

Pallister, quoting the Canadian Institute for Health Information, said Manitobans pay the highest ambulance fees in the country. Winnipeggers are charged $522 when they are transported to hospital. In Prairie Mountain Health region in western Manitoba, the flat-rate fee of $530 is the highest in Canada.

"When you're in need of ambulance care, you need a (paramedic) at the door, you don't need a bill for $500 in the mail," Pallister told a news conference at the campaign headquarters of former city councillor Scott Fielding, who is carrying the party banner in Kirkfield Park against the NDP's Sharon Blady, the minister of health. Kelly Nord is the Liberal candidate in the constituency.

Pallister accused the governing NDP of creating "a form of two-tiered health care," where folks who can afford the high fees use ambulances without hesitation while others consider finding other ways to get to hospital.

He estimated the cost to the province of chopping ambulance service fees in half at $11.5 million annually.

While Pallister spoke at a podium today, more than a dozen paramedics from across the province stood behind him sporting Tory-blue T-shirts. Calling themselves the Manitoba Paramedic Alliance, they say they are frustrated at delays in creating a college of paramedics and instituting other health reforms that could better use their services. They said the Tories have listened to their ideas and concerns, while the other parties have not been as attentive or forthcoming. A spokesman for the group declined to say how many paramedics the organization represented.

In answer to a media question, Pallister said while the NDP has budgeted for annual health-care spending increases of five per cent, he would like to do a little better than that — limiting them to, say, four per cent as a Tory government tried to control government costs. While some provinces have limited health-spending increases to the rate of inflation or less, the Manitoba Tories would take a "gradual" and "common-sense" approach to curbing spending growth, he said.

After his early morning announcement in Kirkfield Park, Pallister headed to Brandon, with stops along the way. He also plans to visit Dauphin and Swan River. On Saturday, he plans to travel to The Pas, Flin Flon and Thompson.

Meanwhile, Daun said she's hoping that her sky-high ambulance charges will be covered by Manitoba Public Insurance. The claim has yet to be settled.

"I hope someone else is going to pay for these bills," she said.

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.