Robbing meter to pay Paul

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Back in June of 2013 the Error Banner reported on Aurora council debating a resolution to reduce and cap hospital parking rates.

I posted on this and followed up a year later in March of 2014

Last week the Banner reported triumphantly that an announcement by the provincial government will lower hospital parking rates.

But reading the article in full we see this is not true at all.

In fact the announcement by M.P.P. Chris Blowhard is a non-announcement, and here’s why.

Beginning in over 8 months the changes are structured so that hospitals that charge more than $10 a day for parking must provide five-day, 10-day and 30-day passes that are 50-per-cent less than their daily rate, transferable between patients and caregivers, allow in-and-out privileges in a 24-hour period and valid for one year.

So what impact does this have on hospitals in York Region exactly?

Richmond Hill’s Mackenzie Health charges $19.50 for a daily parking pass, almost double the $10 day rate.  They already offer a weekly pass ($41.50) and a monthly pass ($84) with in-and-out privileges that are 50-per-cent less than their daily rate.

So no change.

Southlake currently charges $20 for a daily parking pass, double the $10 day rate. They already offer a seven-day pass ($37) and a monthly pass ($100) with in-and-out
privileges that are 50-per-cent less than their daily rate.

Also no change

Markham Stouffville charges $22 for a daily parking pass, over double the $10 day
rate. They already offer a weekly pass ($47) and a monthly pass ($95) also with in-and-out privileges that are 50- per-cent less than their daily rate.

Again, no change.

The news release from the province provides a breakdown of daily parking rates:

54 hospitals charge $10 or less per day
36 hospitals charge more than $10 a day

If the Provincial government targeted a $10 as a reasonable day rate then why wouldn’t they just implement a hard cap at that rate?

The math behind the proposed discounts for frequent visitors hasn’t reduced fees as much as allowed the hospitals to charge $10 /day for those returning at 5, 10 and 30 day intervals.

Let’s take Markham as an example, under these rules they can set:

5 day pass at 5 x $22 = $110 / 2 = $55/5 = $11/day.
10 day pass at 10 x $22 = $220 / 2 = $110/10 = 11/day.
30 day pass at 30 x $22 = $660 / 2 = $330/30 = 11/day.

So no matter how you cut it the daily rate works out to $11 which is higher than the $10/day rate set as a threshold.

Markham could do this but it has already reduced fees for frequent visitors at a much greater rate.  The hospital offers 30 and 120-use parking passes at an 80 to 87-per-cent discount with users paying $3.17 or $2.16, per use.

That’s right parking under $5/use.

Outrageous!

How can they possibly keep the lights on? Especially considering the president of the Ontario Hospital Association is quoted in this CBC piece as saying “For the past 10 years, government has actively encouraged hospitals to generate revenue to help fund hospital operations” 

Generate revenue, sure.

But this isn’t a licence to suddenly become a d-bag like this guy:

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We read $100 million is raised annually for the province’s hospitals and these changes will create a $30-million shortfall.

But here’s the piece that gets left out of the equation, of the provinces total 135 hospitals, 90 charge for parking.  45 hospitals currently offer free parking.

Yes, free parking.

In 2011 the Canadian Medical Association Journal ran an editorial stating hospital parking amounts to nothing more than user fees and is subsequently an impediment to health care.  Shortly after the Toronto Star ran several readers’ letters supporting this position.

Pamela Fralick, president and CEO of the Canadian Healthcare Association was staunchly opposed to the Canadian Medical Association Journal’s position and dismissed it as quoted in this Hamilton Spectator piece:

“In a perfect world it would be great to abolish parking fees. But if we do remove this source of revenue, something has to give and my question would be what it is that we give up?”

You mean, the perfect world that already exists in 45 Ontario Hospitals?

A perfect world that also exists in Delta B.C. since 2010 thanks to principled Mayor and council that passed a bylaw to ban parking at its hospital.

The same Mayor is profiled in this CBC Marketplace piece at 11:32

When asked to respond to the assertion that hospitals need to charge for parking to make up budget shortfalls, her response was simple:  sharpen your pencils!

As one of the 36 Ontario hospitals that charge over $10/day this is exactly the action Southlake’s board of directors seem unwilling to do.

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