By Gord Bowes, News staff
The Liberal government has to follow through on its commitment to lower hospital parking fees, says Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor.
People shouldn’t have to worry about their pocketbook while dealing with their health or visiting sick loved ones, she said following recent hikes by Hamilton’s hospital systems.
“These fees are enormous,” said Taylor.
As part of their election platform, the provincial Liberals promised to “cap or cut hospital parking fees for those who must visit the hospital frequently.” The Ministry of Health has not given a timeline.
Hamilton Health Sciences hiked the maximum daily rate at its sites on June 16, four days after the June provincial election and following a similar hike by St. Joseph’s Healthcare in April.
At the Juravinski Cancer Centre and Hospital, the maximum went up to $20 from $15. The rate at other sites is as much as $25.
Kelly Campbell, a vice-president with HHS, noted the half-hour parking rate was not increased, just the maximum charge for a day. It had been five years since parking rates were increased, she said.
Monthly and multiple-visit rates are offered to help regular visitors, she said.
“Hospitals have very little opportunity for revenue beyond funding from the Ministry of Health,” she said.
With funding flat-lined but salary and material costs rising, HHS has to look for other ways to add to its coffers.
The HHS expects to generate an extra $560,000 a year through the hike, said Campbell. The money will be used to maintain parking facilities and buy new equipment.
“That’s the problem — they’ve been freezing their funding for so many years that now they’re strapped and they have to be creative to make more revenue,” said Taylor. “That shouldn’t be the way that it is. It’s almost creating a fee-for-service when you go to the hospital and that’s not what our health-care system in supposed to be.”