In a move to provide some relief for Ontarians who face repeated visits to hospitals for their care either from accidents or illness, the government has finally put some constraints on the rates hospitals can charge for parking. This is no small gesture as parking rates at Ontario hospitals can reach nearly $30/day. For anyone facing repeated visits either for care themselves, or to provide needed care for their loved ones this is a huge burden which many are calling a health tax. The government estimates that over 900,000 patients and visitors pay to park at hospital lots each year. In many cases there are few or no viable alternatives to parking in the hospital lots.
Under the order hospitals that charge more than $10/day for parking must freeze the rate and start offering multiday discounts by October 1, 2016. Health Minister Hoskins has required that the hospitals provide 5, 10 and 30 day passes discounting rates by 50% in order to ease the burden placed on patients and visitors. In/out privileges will also be required for the permits allowing visitors to come more than once a day without having to pay each time which often results in people paying more than the daily maximum rate in any one day period.
Many hospitals actually encourage strong family attendance in order to relive the strain on nursing staff. Family are increasingly relied upon to help feed, change and provide other personal services to their patient family member. From my perspective this is big step forward for patients.
The Ontario Hospital Association has come to rely on the cash grab from patients to fund their programmes. They don’t like the idea as parking generates about $100 Million on the backs of patients. Hospitals will be required to work with patient and family advisory groups on the details of the new parking plans.