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Opposition says Manitoba air ambulance program suffering from privatization


WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government says its Lifeflight airplane-ambulance service will continue uninterrupted this weekend despite a suggestion to the contrary by the Opposition New Democrats.

Lifeflight mainly provides inter-hospital transfers for patients more than 200 kilometres from Winnipeg, and is in addition to other helicopter and airplane services that operate closer to the capital.

The Progressive Conservative government is doing away with its two government-owned Lifeflight aircraft, and plans to rely on privately owned planes that currently perform about half the trips.

The government employees union and a physicians group have raised concerns about the safety level of private planes, and NDP Leader Wab Kinew says he heard that service was being suspended for the next few days.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding says there is no interruption in service.

Fielding also says Manitoba’s move to private planes is in line with other provinces.

“Arrangements have been made with private carriers to provide continuity of service,” Fielding said in a written statement Friday. “Most other jurisdictions in Canada utilize privately owned and operated air ambulance aircraft. Only one province uses a fully government-owned and operated service.”

Copyright (c) 2019 The Canadian Press