Ontario government cuts hospital parking rates

Dan Koehler A vehicle pulls into the parking garage at Lakeridge Health Oshawa. Lakeridge Health recently changed their parking rates after the government's changes.

Hospital patients and visitors in Ontario finally have some parking relief.

As of Oct. 1 hospitals that charge more than $10 per day for parking are now required by the Ontario government to offer discounted passes that cut rates by at least 50 per cent.  The goal is to reduce the burden on people who have a need to visit a hospital frequently.

At Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, a one day parking pass costs $15 dollars.

“I recently broke my leg and I’ve had to make a bunch of trips to the hospital,” said Ryan Switalski, a Durham College student in the human resources program.  “I didn’t realize it would cost so much to park.”

The changes include at least a 50 per cent discount off the maximum daily rate, the ability to share the pass between patients and caregivers, and in and out privileges over a 24-hour period.  The pass can also be used for consecutive or non-consecutive days, and is good for up to a year from the purchase date.

According to a news release from the Ontario government, Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke about the changes and discounts at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto earlier this month.

“The cost of parking can add up quickly for anyone who must go to a hospital for a series of treatments, or to visit a loved one.  Requiring a hospital to cut their maximum daily parking rates in half is one of the ways we are helping people in their everyday lives,” Wynne said.

Ontario residents already felt some relief earlier this year when parking fees were capped in January as part of the government’s Hospital Parking Directive.  The new changes are expected to benefit 900,000 Ontarians each year.

“When dealing with a health issue, patients and their families should not have the added burden of worrying about the high cost of parking when they go to the hospital.  This is part of our government’s commitment to putting patients first and making our health care system more accessible to all,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Across Ontario, 45 hospitals charge more than 10 dollars a day for parking, while 45 others offer parking for free.

“The price changes definitely help but I think parking should be free, at least for patients,” Switalski said.

Switalski isn’t the only one who thinks parking should be free.

According to the London Free Press, in July a petition was started by Collin Kennedy, a Winnipeg cancer patient, to make parking free at hospitals nationwide.  He started the petition after his mother paid almost $600 over a six-week period to visit him.  The petition has more than 3,000 signatures and Kennedy hopes to present the petition to Parliament in December.

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Dan is a second-year journalism student at Durham College, who enjoys writing about music, the environment, politics, and opinion pieces. He also hosts a show on Riot Radio and works as a volunteer technician. Dan loves spending time at his cottage and has a wide array of unusual pets, including reptiles and arachnids. In the future he hopes to work for a radio station while doing freelance photography.