BC Health Authorities Audited Financials (2018) - Total Operating Budget vs Pay Parking Income

Health Authority NameTotal Op. BudgetPay Parking Income% Of BudgetAnnual Budget Increase (2017-2018)**
TOTALS$12.4 Billion$34.3 Million0.28%$556 Million (16 x parking revenue)
Fraser Health$3.5 Billion$14.9 Million0.43%$144 Million (9.5 x parking revenue)
Coastal Health$3.5 Billion$5.5 Million0.16%$138 Million (25 x parking revenue)
Island Health$2.4 Billion$7.9 Million0.33%$147 Million (18.5 x parking revenue)
Interior Health$2.2 Billion$5.3 Million0.24%$104 Million (19.5 x parking revenue)
Northern Health$833 Million$713 Thousand0.09%$23 Million (32 x parking revenue)
All figures have been rounded for simplicity.

** The increase in annual operating budgets is shown in multiples of pay parking income to underscore the insignificance of pay parking dollars.

It should be noted that the above pay parking income figures do not reflect the true level of extortion. The amounts listed above are what the Health Authorities received from the parking lot operators who are contracted to run the pay parking operations. The sum of all revenue from hospital pay parking is possibly double or even triple these amounts. Every dime of this undocumented and secretive pay parking income is retained by the parking lot operators.

Who’s Accountable?

One of the biggest frustrations for patients and their supporters is trying to figure out who can be held accountable for hospital pay parking. The entire pay parking apparatus is deliberately clandestine. The goal is to confuse, obfuscate and defer responsibility with the hope visitors will simply shrug it off as just another necessary evil in life. Unfortunately front line health care professionals too often bear the brunt of stressed out angry hospital visitors complaining about pay parking issues. As shown in the diagram below, it is the Health Authority executive along with the oversight from the Board of Directors who are responsible. Knowing the practice is despised by nearly everyone, the Ministry of Health has kept its distance from the issue and has repeatedly deflected our requests to the Health Authorities for engagement on the matter.

Taxpayer And Government Hierarchy

Pay Parking Annual Income Growth:  FOUR Times The Rate Of Inflation

For those on the receiving end of the proceeds, hospital pay parking is becoming increasingly more lucrative. There’s always a little more that can be taken from hospital patients and their supporters, so why not? The province’s Health Authorities have sucker-punched patients and their supporters in the parking lot for an extra 24% in just three short years (and an extra kick in the groin if you attended a Coastal Health hospital). Feel free to make your opinion known to those who argue this is how Canadian health care must be funded.

Hospital Pay Parking Income Growth 2015 - 2018
Health Authority Name2015 Parking Income2018 Parking IncomeIncrease Since 2015
TOTALS$27.7 Million$34.3 Million24%
Fraser Health$12.6 Million$14.9 Million18%
Coastal Health$3.2 Million$5.5 Million72%
Island Health$7.2 Million$7.9 Million10%
Interior Health$4.1 Million$5.3 Million30%
Northern Health$600 Thousand$713 Thousand19%

Canada Health Act

We Have A Law On The Matter, It’s Being Ignored.

The Canada Health Act states:

“to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.

Hospital Parking TicketParking Lot Operators Profit From The Sick

Private for-profit parking lot operators don’t set up shop in a 1,500 stall hospital parking lot as an act of charity. They’re in it to make money. Considering their “tickets” for non-compliance start at $80 at Lower Mainland area hospitals, they’re likely pretty satisfied with the arrangement. The finer details of the relationship between parking lot operators and our Health Authorities is kept secret. Perhaps you can guess why.

Nearly all BC hospitals with pay parking utilize the prepaid meter setup that links a payment with a license plate number or stall number. This system is intentionally devious. By forcing visitors to guess how much time will be needed in advance, it puts the patrolling (and commissioned) lot employees in a position of great advantage. Their game is writing “tickets” from expired meters (these tickets are actually invoices as only tax authorities and law enforcement can legally issue tickets if you violate an actual law or bylaw). As reported in the CBC Marketplace piece and the latest BC Health Authority parking management contract, 100% of the revenue from parking infractions goes to the parking lot contractor.

Hospital Parking StressAdditional Suffering

Nobody really wants to go to a hospital. Nobody chooses to get sick. Nobody elects to prolong their stay at a hospital following discharge. But most of all, nobody should have to spend any mental or physical energy on concerning themselves with keeping a parking meter topped up during a hospital stay. Hospitals are captive environments. Obligatory user fees can be extracted with ease by taking advantage of the nature of this captivity.

It is impossible to quantify the additional stress that comes from hospital pay parking and the fear of having the parking meter expire while one is attending to far more important things inside the hospital. Financial stress is already a plague in our society. There are a significant number of stories reported by various Canadian media throughout the country that recount the sad stories of people who receive ongoing treatment while being fleeced for pay parking at every visit. The tax-funded experience of receiving health care for any duration should not involve any user fees.

Hospital Parking in Scotland and Wales is Free

There is precedent for ousting hospital pay parking in favour of a system more consistent with the values of socialized health care. Both Scotland and Wales scrapped hospital pay parking in 2008 and neither country reported the collapse of patient care in their publicly funded hospitals. When asked to explain the move to free parking, the Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

“It’s simply not fair to expect patients or visitors to have to pay when they come to hospital, when they may be suffering personal anxiety, stress or grief. Put bluntly, a car parking charge is often the last thing people need,”

Enough said.

Urban Regions In BC With Free Hospital Parking

The councils of three major BC towns have passed bylaws banning hospital pay parking in their cities. They are Delta, Mission and Campbell River.

 

 

 

 

 

What system of hospital parking for patients and their supporters do you support?

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