Letter to the Premier, June 2013

May 9th, 2013

Kathleen Wynne, Premier 
Legislative Building 
Queen’s Park 
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

premier@ontario.ca

Dear Premier,

Re: Parking fees at Ontario hospitals

We write you today about the issue of parking fees at Ontario hospitals. We are concerned about the rising cost of parking at local hospitals. We believe that the hospitals should be not required to charge patients, their caregivers, visitors and staff ever-increasing amounts to meet budget targets. We think that this practice places an unacceptable burden on a captive market of the sick and aged populations of Ontario.

We have met with many representatives, listed below, to bring the issue to the attention of those who have an interest and those who have the power to make change.

We started three years ago, when we met with the local hospital CEO, Janet Beed, who believes that her facility is required by the HAPS prioritization schedule to maximize revenues from parking. Further, we have a letter from Kim Baker, CEO of the Central LHIN, declaring this to be a matter of hospital policy. We have been informed through the office of our MPP, Dr. Helena Jaczek, that the Ministry of Health has not mandated revenue generation from parking fees. There appears from these statements to be a real difference of opinion about whether or not parking fees must be a substantial revenue source for the hospitals.

We have prepared a web site at www.fairhospitalparkingcharges.org and refer you to it for background on our efforts.

We would like to understand how the parking charges became a revenue source for Ontario hospitals.  Further, we believe the people of Ontario would like to be consulted on this matter of ethical treatment of our fellow citizens. A policy review may well be in order.

Although we have repeatedly requested an audience with the Minister of Health or a senior representative, we have not yet been successful.

 

 

 

We would like to meet with you or your senior representative to discuss this matter.

We look forward to an early reply to our request.

With respect,

Alan Powell
Elizabeth Plashkes
John Hazlewood

cc. Dr. Helena Jaczek, MPP, Oak Ridges-Markham

 

Meetings with

  • Janet Beed, CEO and Rob Bull, CFO, MSH
  • Helena Jaczek, MPP
  • Suzette Strong, MSH Foundation
  • Jack Heath, Deputy Mayor, Markham
  • Wayne Emmerson, Mayor, Whitchurch Stouffville
  • Carolina Moretti, Ward 4 Councillor

Phone discussions with

  • Janet Beed
  • Dr. Brian Goldman
  • Rick Jansen of OPSEU

Motions of support from the following communities:

  • City of Markham
  • Town of Whitchurch Stouffville
  • Town of Uxbridge
  • Town of Aurora
  • Town of Newmarket

Media coverage includes:

  • Local media interviews in Markham Economist and Sun
  • The Stouffville Free Press
  • CBC – White Coat, Black Art – November, 2012
  • CMAJ – Editorial by Dr. R. Kale – January, 2012

 Additional note: The Cities of Pickering and Vaughan and the Towns of Richmond Hill, East Gwillimbury and King City                  

                               have also passed supportive resolutions


New page has information about our progress

Hello all,

Please refer to the new page here called “Where we are right now” for more information about our progress this year.

We hope to report soon that we have met with the Premier. If you have any advice about how to make this happen, please let us know!

Contact us at fairhpc@gmail.com.

FHPC


Spring Updates Reflect Municipal Support

We have been busy approaching various municipalities in the York and Durham Regions concerning hospital parking charges. To date, there are positive resolutions from Markham, Oshawa, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Uxbridge, East Gwillimbury, Pickering, Richmond Hill and Vaughan Councils. Others in the area will be looking at the issue in coming meetings. We thank everyone for their support. For those that missed it, CBC’s Marketplace ran an episode on parking across Canada.


Huffington Post Article

Phil Froats: High Hospital Parking Costs Add Insult to Injury

At my last chemo session a lady was talking about how she was paying $80 in cab fare just to get to each of her hospital visits. That gets one to thinking of the extra financial burdens that are placed on patients and their families and friends. Some of these like loss of wages and uninsured drug costs can be catastrophic.
Because they cannot afford to do otherwise, many people try to continue to work or go without expensive drugs and thereby jeopardize their recoveries. There are other, often less thought of expenses, that can really add up.
Take hospital parking. To illustrate this, I pulled togeiher daily maximum rates for the 14 cancer centres in Ontario and show them below sorted most to least expensive.
Toronto, Sunnybrook– $23.o0

Toronto, Princess Margaret — $19.oo

Newmarket — $17.oo

Oshawa — $16.oo

Kingston — $16.oo

Mississauga — $16.00

Hamilton — $15.oo

Barrie – $15.oo

Ottawa — $13.oo

London — $1o.5o

Kitchener-Waterloo — $1o.oo

Thunder Bay– $7.oo

Sudbury-$6.oo

Windsor — $3.oo
The average is $13.32 per day with Sunnybrook topping the list at an astronomical, just plain mean, $23 and Windsor at the bottom with a much more kindly $3. Over a course of treatments this really adds up. Full parking charges, twice a week for six weeks can cost you up to $276 at Sunnybrook on top of the cost of getting your car to the hospital. ln addition, before treatment started, you probably went to the bank machine a few times to pay for parking while getting diagnostic scans, physician appointments, follow ups, etc. lf you are in for a few overnights, I would imagine the higher the rates, the less visitors want to come.
As you can see the higher rates tend to be in the Toronto GTA and larger cities. Many centres will give you directions on how to get there via public transit which does of course avoid the parking charges. There are at least two very serious public transit issues with cancer patients. First treatment often knocks down our immune systems making us highly susceptible to contagious diseases. You have a much larger chance of catching a cold or the flu by adding a trip on a bus or subway io your routine than being in your car.
Quick Poll –  Do you think charging for parking at hospitals is wrong?

i .) Absolutely – it’s taking advantage of emotional people

ii) Not at all – they need to make money too

iii) Sometimes – there should be dedicated spaces for real emergencies

iv)l I don’t have an opinion either way
Second, treatment makes us physically weaker so adding the public transit trip where we could easily wind up standing the whole way can be very draining. A good example is the Toronto subway which can be a noxious place for anyone with physical disabilities. Only 31 of the 69 stops have elevators. Most have escalators but often they only go one way if they are working at all. One trip to Sherbourne station when you have to walk down several long flights of stairs with a wind tunnel effect that wants to take a CFL football player off his feet will demonstrate the the problems quite nicely.

There is another alternative in many areas. The Cancer Society will provide free transportation to and from the centre for the course of your treatments. My experience has shown that it has its flaws but is generally a good system and a donation to the Society will usually cost you a lot less than being gouged by some of the hospital parking rates.
http://www.huffrngtonpost.calphil-froats/hospital-parking-costs-cancer-treatment b

2013-01-23


January 2013, Update

January 2013 Update

 

Since our last post, there have been some new developments. Along with Markham, the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville and the City of Oshawa have all passed resolutions asking the Province to reduce and control parking charges at Ontario Hospitals.

 

CTV ran a news report on Friday, December 28th regarding the issue. They referred to Oshawa councilor Doug Sanders and his efforts to successfully get the Oshawa Council to pass a resolution to be forwarded to the Provincial Government. In that report, the charges at various hospitals were referred to. For those with Internet access you may watch the clip at CTVNews.com.

 

Our small group continues to meet and work towards getting the word out. For all that follow this issue, your support is appreciated. At present, we do not actively work with Facebook or Twitter, so if you would like to expand our audience using these forms of social media we would appreciate it.

 

There has been some recognition of our cause by members of the opposition parties in the Provincial Government. For this we appreciate their involvement. We are still working to encourage the party in power to respond to the issue in a way that doesn’t just state the status quo.

 

We’ll keep you informed.


Markham Council Presention

This is the document that we presented to Markham City Council on November 5, 2012. You may use this file for presenting to your own council, or other authority.

Fair Hospital Parking Charges Presentation


Presentation to Markham Council a Success

On Monday, November 5th, we made a presentation to the Markham City Council, sitting in general committee. After hearing our presentation and some favourable discussion, the committee passed our resolution,” That the City of Markham hereby requests that the Province of Ontario reduce and cap at a fair rate the parking charges at Ontario hospitals, including Markham/Stouffville Hospital.” The recommendation was passed with all in favour.

The next step is the Markham Council Meeting which is being held on Tuesday, November 13th at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Markham Civic Centre (Warden and Hwy 7).

Hope to see you there!

 


Markham City Council hears our deputation

Please join us in the Canada Room, Markham Civic Centre, at 9 am on Monday, November 5th. We will be asking City Council to act by passing a motion to encourage the Provincial Government to reduce and cap at a fair rate the parking fees at Ontario hospitals.

You are most welcome to attend and listen. We welcome you, whatever your position.

The presentation will be posted here on November 5th.


Parking for the Rich

In all of our efforts, looking at parking rates at hospitals in Ontario, it has become evident that parking rates at hospitals are geared to those that can afford them. It is also evident that if you know the ins and outs of hospital visits, you can to some extent, make the procedure less of a burden. It is our opinion that the vast  majority of people using the hospitals may not know of some of these procedures.

 

Day passes, weekly passes and monthly passes are often available. Using the example of the Markham/Stouffville Hospital, these rates apply. The usual rate is $3.75 for half an hour. This translates into $7.50 per hour. The daily pass is $19.00. The weekly pass is $45.00 and the monthly pass is $90.00. If you know that a person you are going to visit is to be hospitalized for a length of time it is possible to reduce the cost of visiting. However, if you find out after several days that this is the case, the weekly and monthly passes will not include those days you have already paid for.

 

In our research, we have found  that over 52, 000 clients accessed the York Region Food Banks in 2010.(The latest year’s figures. See http://yrfn.ca) This is a lot of people who need assistance with the essentials of living. It also translates into a lot of people who, if they need access to a hospital, will find the cost of parking an added burden. Now, we have recently found out that Markham-Stouffville Hospital has a policy for assisting those in need. Upon completion of a form filled out with a social worker, they could be entitled to a 30% discount on parking for the weekly and monthly passes. While it is a step in the right direction, could it not also be made less difficult for someone to access? What about all of those people who are coming in for tests that only take a few hours?

 

At a time when there are constraints on all of us because of the economy and the downloading of costs onto the consumer, parking at hospitals is one more area of worry, especially for those least able to afford it.

 

As one person commented on this website, perhaps it is time to respond to hospitals who ask for donations by saying I already gave at the parking lot.


Talking to Markham Stouffville Hospital representatives

In late December, 2011, we contacted Markham Stouffville Hospital with a view to talking to the MSH Board chair. We hoped to meet with the Board to explain the issue of high and rising hospital parking charges and to seek the support of the Board.

The initial response was a phone call from Janet Beed, CEO of the MSH Corporation, who declared that the Board knew all about the issue and that a representation from our group was not necessary.

A few days later, a letter arrived from Mr. Warren Jestin, Chair, Board of Directors, MSH Corporation, which is provided below. Mr. Jestin states that, “…we are not in a position to remove this revenue nor are we in a position to replace this revenue with another fundraising source at this time.”

While we actually sympathize with this position and believe that the solution to the matter of high and unchecked parking fees in our hospitals does not lie with individual hospitals, we had hoped that MSH would take the high road and offer at least moral support for our campaign. This is a dissappointing, although not unexpected, development.

We are further encouraged to take this discussion to the highest level. We will renew our efforts to meet with the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews, to gain a full understanding of where the responsibility for the impostion of parking charges on a vulnerable patient population lies.

Passing the buck from Hospital to LHIN to Ministry does not serve the public well. This strategy only serves to continue unchecked the stress on those in society who can least manage it: the sick, the old, the poor and those who would seek to support them.


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