A Metro Vancouver mayor says she thinks B.C. should follow Ontario’s lead, as it takes aim at the high price hospital parking.
The Eastern province is freezing hospital parking rates for the next three years, and forcing lots to offer 50% discounts for people who are visiting more than five days.
That sounds like a good idea to Lois Jackson, mayor of Delta – which has banned pay parking at hospitals since 2010.
Jackson says she knows it’s a thorny issue. In fact, it led to a nasty public battle between the city and Fraser Health when the Delta passed its bylaw.
“They were really angry with us in the early times. [But] some times we the little people have to stand our ground on a matter of principle.”
“It’s just basically un-Canadian as far as I’m concerned.”
Jackson says the fees can be punishing for anyone who has to visit a hospital regularly. She knows first hand – one of her daughters had a long cancer treatment, while the other spent more than 100 days in the ICU.
And she says she worries the high cost can be a factor in keeping visitors away from the hospital.
“It’s just much more important to be with that patient, to encourage them, especially if they’re very ill. We should be encouraging people to go and help people int he hospital and get them home – bring up the spirit, get them moving.”
The province says parking fees are a necessary funding mechanism for hospitals, and are needed to keep traffic moving.
Jackson says she knows nothing is free – but points out that profit is being made off of hospital visitors.
“How much money is Impark getting?”
She says a better model would be to offer lower rates and have the service operated by hospital auxiliaries who would put the money back into care.
“My concern is that it isn’t good for the patients, and I dont believe there’s enough money going from that revenue source to make any difference quite frankly.”