The Government will provide almost $40 million in funding for ambulance services in a bid to relieve the pressure some of the providers are under.
But speaking to media this morning, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters gave a strong hint the Government was planning to fully fund St John in the near future.
"I very confident that we can look forward to a day, and not very far from now, where 95 per cent of the needs of St Johns is funded from central Government."
Although he was confident, he said he was not speaking for "the whole Cabinet, at this point in time".
St John considers 95 per cent funding for the Government full funding.
"That would be fair, right and reasonable – for God's sake, it's probably the most essential services we've got," Peters said.
St John and Wellington Free Ambulance Service are the two benefactors of the Government's pre-budget announcement.
Some $21m will be paid out to the ambulance providers over the next two years.
This one-off funding, according to Peters, is aimed at relieving pressure from ambulance providers and providing them with certainty.
At the same time, St John and Wellington Free will work with the Ministry of Health, ACC and District Health Boards on the long-term sustainability of their services.
A further $17.2m in operational funding has also been made available to the ambulance providers – this will be paid out over four years.
In total, the Government allocated $38.2m in this year's budget for St John and Wellington Free Ambulance.
Speaking to media this morning, St John chief executive Peter Bradley welcomed the news the Government commitment would be looking into its overall funding model.
He said St John was "optimistic" that its funding issue would be sorted out "once and for all".
"At the moment, the reliance on fundraising is so great, it's impossible to fill that gap – to be 95 per cent funded [by the Government] would mean we were fully funded."
Health Minister David Clark said New Zealand's ambulance services deserve a secure and sustainable future.
"Today's announcement gives us time to do the work to make sure that happens."
Ambulances respond to more than 550,000 emergency 111 calls a year, with more than 440,000 calls resulting in an ambulance being dispatched.
At the moment, the Ministry of Health and ACC fund approximately 72 per cent of the operating costs of ambulances.
The remainder, some $65m a year, is funded largely through part charges and donations.
Today's announcement, however, does not mean the ambulance providers would be able to stop relying on donations, Peters said.
The new funding comes amid increasing calls for the Government to put more money into ambulance services.
Last month, Bradley appealed directly to the Government to fully fund the service.
He said St John put a funding bid to Government of more than $350m over four years to increase its funding levels to be fully supported.
"Although we will always fundraise for our community health programmes, we want this to be the last annual appeal where we have to ask the public to donate money to run an essential emergency service."
St John provides emergency ambulance services to nearly 90 per cent of New Zealanders in 97 per cent of the country's geographic locations.
Each year, it responds to more than 476,000 emergencies across the country.