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The Health Authorities Have Their Say

We asked the two largest Health Authorities to justify pay parking. We asked why hospital patients and their supporters are subject to mandatory user fees accompanied by the threat of aggressive financial penalties. We reminded them of the social contract between Canadians and their government. We offered to volunteer our time and expertise to work together on a plan to end the practice. This is what we got.


Hospital Pay Parking Dishonest Justifications


  • No Pay Parking Revenue = Patient Care Will Suffer

This is the number one justification for hospital pay parking; the revenue received by the Health Authority goes all, or in part, to patient care. It is referenced in interviews, media releases and in the above letters. While this revenue might actually be a contributing factor to patient care, these proceeds amount to nothing more than a tiny financial bonus. Nobody should be fooled into believing that the removal of less than one half of one percent of a Health Authority’s operating budget will have any meaningful negative consequences for patient care. Health Authorities receive annual increases to their operating budget, courtesy of taxpayers, that cover parking revenue many times over. The linkage between the proceeds of pay parking and patient care is not based in evidence. Rather, it is a veiled threat.


  • Pay Parking Revenue Goes To Snow Removal And Parking Lot Maintenance

There seems to be something very special about the parking lots themselves. Maybe it’s because they are so easily separated from where health care delivery actually takes place.  The messaging appears to suggest the billions of dollars spent on running every facet of the health care system cannot be used on snow removal, painting lines on concrete, security, lighting and other trivial costs. We’re being coaxed into believing that only the proceeds from pay parking can tame these rather ordinary expenditures. This is just ridiculous. Parking lot maintenance costs are obviously inclusive in the running of a proper hospital.


  • No Pay Parking = No Available Parking Spots

It’s often trotted out that free parking would amount to hospital patients never wanting to leave the hospital. This warning about parking stall rotation is an indirect confirmation that the Health Authorities rely on patients being cognizant/stressed about a parking meter that must be fed. The objective is to incentivize patients to move their vehicles as soon as possible to create more free parking stalls. This is a great idea for restaurants, not for hospitals.  Parking stall turnover rates are a factor of the expediency of health care delivery itself and not the patient’s ability to sneak out of the ER early. With respect to visitors that support patients, there are good reasons to encourage them to minimize their use of the hospital parking facilities. The status quo only serves to discourage visitation.


  • Funding For Hospital Foundations And “The Like”

When cash is so easily extracted from vulnerable hospital patients, there’s a need to dream up financial support connections with good causes; hospital foundations for example, to help legitimize the practice. With all due respect to the highly worthy and much appreciated hospital foundations in our province, this is about distributing the proceeds of pay parking to institutions outside of the public health care system. Hospital Foundations are typically funded by private and corporate donations. Donations are optional. The excellent VGH-UBC Hospital Foundation, for example, discloses all of their donors. The donor name listing “patients and their parking meter forced donations” didn’t make the list. Shocker.


  • Pay Parking Rates Will Be Affordable To Everyone

Affordability is a non-issue. Not only is the affordability claim an outright lie (parking rates are rising rapidly), it only serves to propagate the false notion that there is good and fairness in the financial abuse of hospital patients. Patients and their supporters should not be forced to pay any amount for parking at any BC public hospital.


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

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