What a disaster.
I figured the universally-hated, sick patient exploiting, profit driven scam that is hospital pay parking would make a return once the pandemic was downgraded to endemic. However what I didn’t see coming was the way our stressed-out, tired-out, worn-out health minister would throw in the towel on the parking file like he just did today. If our previous FOI revelations that prove parking management companies cannot collect on the majority of their “fines” and that vehicle towing is just a myth didn’t convince British Columbians they should probably think twice before feeding any parking meter at any BC hospital, then the newly unveiled stratification of random illnesses and select visitor status suddenly being endowed with free parking benefits should end any speculation about why hospital parking lots will continue to be used and abused as free parking for all while revenues drop precipitously and predictably.
Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the end of hospital pay parking in BC as we have known it for many years. I’ll explain.
The following categorizations of people will be permitted to park for free at any BC hospital:
- Anyone receiving cancer treatment
- Anyone receiving kidney dialysis treatment
- Anyone claiming to be a parent or caregiver of a child staying in hospital overnight.
- Anyone claiming to be a volunteer
This list is problematic on a number of levels. Let’s start with the obvious, why are just these people given a pass on having to stress out about keeping meter maids at bay while everyone else is expected to be gouged for accessing taxpayer funded services? What’s so special about these folks compared to everyone else with tubes up their nose and plaster casts around their legs? Is it about the chronological quantity of parking needed to accommodate their needs? No – this varies widely among patients involving a large number of factors that determine the duration of stay. Is it about the seriousness of their health issues compared to others not on the list? No – a visit to the hospital is nearly always about serious health matters. Is it about their ability to pay? No – the list is not correlated with financial circumstances. Is it about a certain level of suffering? No – sadly all hospital patients suffer in one way or another. Is it about virtue-signalling a message of compassion for those who might be regarded as the most undeserving of the hospital pay parking experience and all the added stress and anxiety it bestows on its victims? Probably.
Then there is the matter of enforcement. How’s that going to work? Will front-line health care staff be the arbiters of free parking? What kind of resources are going to be plowed into sifting out the privileged dialysis patients from the unworthy heart disease patients from the unqualified shattered hip patients from the all important hospital visitors (or should I now call them the newly entitled volunteers) purely for the purpose of who pays for parking? You can’t be serious Adrian Dix. Of course you’re not, that’s why you’ve created a list that can potentially include pretty much anyone. If we’re going to employ precious health care dollars, let’s do it right and separate staff, patients and their supporters from anyone who wants to park their vehicle at a hospital with no business being there. Looking at you Skytrain riders. We’ve campaigned on hospital parking lots being exclusive for years. The minister still isn’t listening.
And lets not forget about the Lords of the Lot; the parking management companies. There’s good reason why Impark and it’s competitors drool over getting hospital lot contracts in the first place. Hospital pay parking is a lucrative money making operation. We’ve proven this. They keep every penny collected in tickets/invoices when sick people can’t keep up with their payments on a meter that’s always ticking while they receive care. I’m willing to bet they will not be that interested in this gig when everyone now has an easy excuse to avoid paying the meter.
Our campaign pointed out years ago that when hospital parking facilities are free for all to use, it will lead to a shortage of available parking stalls. There is a fair bit of anecdotal evidence that suggests this has happened on a regular basis during the past two years. Our campaign has yammered on about a multitude of proven methods of parking lot management that can effectively restrict all parking to staff, patients and their supporters. It’s really unfortunate to think there’s a real opportunity for BC to be a leader in how we manage hospital patient/visitor parking needs, but the ministry is clearly not interested in having that discussion.
Today’s announcement declaring March 4, 2022 as the day when Adrian Dix and the ministry of health segregate our public hospital parking lots by meaningless status and health care needs will mark the beginning of the end of hospital pay parking in BC. The new rules will fail as policy to ensure there is adequate parking for staff, patients and their supporters.