Unfair parking charges at Ontario hospitals
The collection of parking fees from people at their most vulnerable moments is fundamentally wrong. The sick, the injured, the aged, the disabled, the chronically ill, the frantically-worried cannot advocate for their needs when personal health-care crises are upon them. In the midst of challenging, sometimes tragic, circumstances, the hospitals, health care facilities and the governments that support them must not seek to download budgetary pressures upon the hospital clientele.
At our local hospital, the Markham Stouffville Hospital, the charge right now is $4.00 per 30 minutes. That’s $8 per hour. If you know you’re likely to be more than 2 hours, you can buy a day pass for $15 but to obtain in and out privileges, you must know to buy the pass that allows this, for $19. This is by far the most expensive place to park in the Region.
There are no caps in place at this time. The rates, while set by the hospital administrators, are apparently a response to the “suggestion” of the LHINs in a public document that directs the hospitals to maximize revenue sources before seeking government funds. That document, called the Hospital Annual Planning Submission Guidelines, is here.
This is a relatively recent development, which has quietly spread across the province in the past few years. The parking fees are not covering the expenses of running a parking operation. They are now a coveted part of the revenue required to run a health care facility. And nobody asked you if you like it that way.
- This is not a campaign to undermine the excellent work of our hospitals. We ask that the people of Ontario, as the key stakeholders in the health care system, be engaged in the decisions that affect them so closely.
- Parking charges have reached downtown levels in a suburban landscape where parking is almost universally free. All community centres, libraries, arenas, cultural institutions, government offices, GO Transit lots and Main Street retail zones in both Markham and Stouffville provide free parking access. Current parking changes have reached downtown Toronto levels, at nearly $4 per half hour.
- We propose that the parking charges are an inequitable means of meeting budget targets. The needed revenues must be achieved in a kinder, gentler way.
- This is not a public transit issue. Outside of Toronto, many hospital visitors do not have access to reasonable public transit options. And who takes the subway to the emergency department, anywhere?
- Lobby the provincial government to make policy changes across the board, for example, by implementing a province-wide flat fee that caps the charge-per-visit.
- Remove the charges and replace the funds with taxation through the municipal governments.
- Remove the charges and institute parking sponsorship by local commercial/corporate organizations
- Subsidize the charges, fine tuning the different user groups – staff, patients, visitors, seniors
- Implement a tax benefit for those using the parking services, that recognizes the fees are largely a donation to hospital operations.
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