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
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.
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.