This week, our government lowered the price of ambulance service in Manitoba to $250 per ride, less than half of what it was under the previous NDP administration. The fee reduction was a promise we made to Manitobans when we were elected in 2016, and it’s a promise kept. Three years ago, Manitobans were paying the highest ambulance fee in the country. Our Progressive Conservative government has reduced it in stages from $522 in 2016 to $425 in 2017, and then again to $340 last year. The further $90 decrease announced in Budget 2019 means Manitoba now has the lowest such fee amongst the Prairie provinces, and it ensures that more northerners facing medical emergencies won’t have to worry about whether they can afford to call an ambulance.
Through our commitment to public safety, our government has proposed legislation to create a new institutional safety officer designation with expanded authority and enhanced training to better support security guards at hospitals, universities and government facilities. Though security guards at Manitoba health-care facilities and other public institutions have always worked diligently to ensure safety, they face real challenges including unclear powers that have limited their abilities to act in certain situations. Under the recently introduced Police Services Amendment Act, these individuals would enforce and exercise powers under provincial statutes as part of their responsibility for people and property at designated locations. Responding to incidents and then working with police as necessary, they would have roles and enforcement responsibilities modeled on those of community and First Nations safety officers.
Our government is also focused on public safety on our roads and highways, so we are implementing mandatory entry-level training for commercial transport truck drivers. Drivers of commercial trucks play an important role in moving Manitoba’s economy forward. We are ensuring they have the skills and qualifications necessary to do their jobs in a way that keeps everyone safe on our roads. In addition to passing written and practical road tests, beginning on Sept. 1, drivers will be required to complete 121.5 hours of training before they can obtain a Class 1 licence. This new requirement is a result of consultations with stakeholders during the past year, and is consistent with approaches taken in Saskatchewan and Alberta.