Ontario: Hospital Parking Fees Finally Frozen & Reduced

Update: see previous posts – December 29, 2012 Oshawa City Council Passes Motion for Province of Ontario to Set Cap on Hospital Parking at $8 a Day, October 13, 2012 Cancer Patient Sick of Paying for Parking at the Hospital Where He Receives Treatment, December 1, 2011 Canadian Medical Association Journal Losing Patience With Hospital Paid Parking

Hospitals have been gouging hospital patients and their families for years. This is a barrier for patients requiring healthcare and in some cases, prevent families and friends from visiting family and friends that need to their loved ones by their sides in their time of need.

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Hospitals will also have to sell multi-day passes that are 50 per cent cheaper than the daily rate for lots that cost more than $10 a day, health minister says.

Ontario’s health minister is taking a scalpel to hospital parking rates with 50 per cent discounts for longer stays starting in October.

The directive, which also prevents hospitals from raising any parking rates for three years and then only by the rate of inflation, applies to lots and garages charging more than $10 daily, Eric Hoskins said Monday.

People should be taking care of their own health or that of a loved one and “not worried about how they’re going to afford parking,” he said at Women’s College Hospital, making good on a 2014 election promise from Premier Kathleen Wynne to tackle the thorny issue.

“Parking fees should not be a barrier to access in health care,” he added. “When patients are surrounded by loved ones they get better, faster.”

The change does not apply to what Hoskins described as “a minority” of hospitals that do not own their parking facilities, such as Sick Kids, Baycrest and the William Osler Health System, although they will be asked to give motorists a break.

Hospitals would have to provide passes good for five, 10 and 30 days that are 50 per cent cheaper than the daily rate, providing it is more than $10, and to make the passes transferable between patients and caregivers, allow in-and-out privileges and good for one year from the date of purchase.

Hoskins said hospitals in Ontario earn about $100 million a year from parking and that the impact of the cuts for patients and visitors who park regularly or frequently will be a “tiny portion” of their budgets.

The Ontario Hospital Association acknowledged there many families face “challenges” with parking but noted the government has encouraged hospitals to generate their own revenue to help cover the rising costs of delivering health care.

“The decision to cut revenues could not come at a worse time,” said Anthony Dale, chief executive of the association.

“After four years without an increase in base operating funding, hospitals are now at a turning point,” he added in a statement, calling for an increase in Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s spring budget.

“It is increasingly difficult for them to invest in other important health care priorities, such as capital improvements to their buildings, new medical and diagnostic equipment, and information and communications technology.”

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