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.