MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO - It’s bad enough when you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident. Now Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services sends a bill for saving your life, according to http://www.mississauga.com.

Currently, only non-residents are billed $350 an hour for every life-saving vehicle that responds to a collision on Mississauga streets.

But, rising costs have prompted City staff to recommend that city residents be added to the paying customers list. The suggestion is being considered by City Council as part of the 2008 budget deliberations.

“The operating budget for Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services has increased by an average 8.63 per cent over the past five years,” said Paul Mitcham, the City’s commissioner of community services. Most of that increase is attributed to rising salaries, but the increasing number of motor vehicle accidents is making an impact, too.

These costs put considerable pressure on the annual property tax rate, says Mitcham, since fire services make up 28 per cent of the City’s operating budget.

As far as motor vehicle collisions are concerned, the standard response is to dispatch two emergency vehicles to a vehicle collision.

“This is necessary to ensure adequate rescuers arrive should extrication or rescue be required, and also to protect rescuers working at the scene from traffic,” said Mitcham, in his corporate report.

Last year, the City was unable to recover their costs for 722 crashes on city streets that were attended by the fire department.

However, the new charge won’t necessarily come out of your pocket. Mitcham says that, under standard Ontario insurance policies, the insurer will pay emergency services fees charged to policy holders. An invoice from the fire department comes with instructions on how to submit the same invoice to your insurance company.

Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services, Mitcham noted, has been successfully invoicing property owners and non-residents for a wide variety of services for many years. A total of 14 municipal fire departments in Ontario already charge for responding to traffic collisions, including Markham, Vaughan and Richmond Hill.

If approved for Mississauga, an extra $252,000 yearly in fees would flow into City coffers.