NZ Election 2020: NZ First promises to fully fund ambulance charity St John

New Zealand First wants to fully fund St John, the ambulance charity which relies on donations and charges to cover all its costs.

"It's a crying shame that one of our emergency services continues to rely on charity to provide a service that all Kiwis need in times of crisis," leader Winston Peters said on Saturday.

"This is in contrast to how ambulance services are funded overseas, and with other emergency services such as the NZ Police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand."

Around 72 percent of St John's funding is covered by ACC and the Ministry of Health. The rest comes from donations and charges for use. 

"St John services are stretched thin and early this term we were able to secure the short-term funding they desperately needed," said Peters. 

"But St John needs a commitment to meet the 90 percent funding level they require."

The charity earlier this year said it would have to cut 100 jobs, with donations drying up thanks to the COVID-19 crisis. 

"Clearly we've got a long-standing issue over our funding model - and that's a lot of money. We are New Zealand's most trusted charity and we get fantastic support from the public," chief executive Peter Bradley said in June, forecasting a $20 million loss.

"We need to be less reliant on fundraising in the future to run the ambulance service and the Government's aware of that."

St John's operating costs are about $300 million a year.