Your View: Hospital Paid Parking


By Peter Chow

Hospital parking fees for patients range from $6 at Sault Area Hospital to more than $30 in downtown Toronto. Hamilton Health Sciences and Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s Healthcare announced a 25% rate hike to $25. And tickets for infractions at metered lots can run to as much as $80.

A Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial addressed parking fees in 2011. “Parking fees amount to a user fee in disguise and flout the health policy objective of the Canada Health Act. … This is parking-centered health care…….not patient-centered health care.”

Compared to other industrialized countries, Canada has the lowest score for timely access to a primary health care provider, and consequently, the highest rate of patients accessing primary medical care at the hospital emergency department rather than their family doctor.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association, argues it is essentially a user fee. “Parking costs make people think twice about visiting patients or even going to the emergency department. Some people will ration their health care. It is unmanageable for many people, particularly those on fixed incomes. And even for those that aren’t, they may struggle to pay it.”

Scotland got rid of hospital parking fees 10 yrs ago, the government seeing it as a matter of principle, arguing that hospital parking fees went against the principle of health care being free of out-of-pocket cost, as well as being a source of stress for patients.

Hospital parking fees inspired an Ontario Liberal election campaign pledge in 2014, a promise to “work with hospitals to cap or cut parking fees for those who must visit the hospital frequently, either due to a medical condition or to regularly visit a loved one. Our government is going to bring in a realistic plan to help Ontarians with their living costs today as it pertains to hospital parking fees. This is a priority for our government.”

But at the same time, cash-strapped, chronically underfunded hospitals have grown dependent on the revenue parking provides.

In 2016 Brandy Sharp Young, manager for communications with SAH, said the hospital relies on parking fees to offset ongoing maintenance and generate revenue to support patient care programs. “Hospitals, including SAH rely on parking fees as a revenue source to supplement government funding.”

The government of Ontario announced that hospitals who charge over $10 a day for parking would be required to offer discounted passes for 5, 10 or 30-day use at a discount of 50 percent the daily rate.

The Ontario Hospital Association said the cuts to parking fees couldn’t come at a worse time for hospitals.

“As hospitals continue to absorb hundreds of millions in operating costs without an inflationary increase, it is increasingly difficult for them to invest in other important health care priorities, such as capital improvements to their buildings, new medical and diagnostic equipment, and information and communications technology,” read the release.

Hospital paid parking is a user fee and a real deterrent to the most vulnerable in society from accessing health care.

The Minister of Health and Long-Term care says hospital paid parking should never be a deterrent to going to the hospital.

But it is.



  1. I’ve been to a few hospitals down south – yes they are more expensive however they have better security and some even have services for a jump-start or lock-out. They also provide free parking if your visit is shorter than 15mins.
    There’s also often free parking nearby (a short walk) so the hospital lots are more about convenience.
    Trying to comparing the SAH parking to other hospitals again isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.

  2. Any US hospital, which are ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, that I have ever been to had free parking. Just sayin’.

  3. Paid parking at the hospitals is, sadly, a necessity. It costs money to maintain those parking lots. It is not something that is covered by government funding. I’d love to see paid parking gone at hospitals….what suggestions do you have for covering the cost of maintenance?

    • Travis Valois the cost to clear a parking lot if there is tons of snow falling that season can run in $100,000s, I to wish that we didnt have to pay but someone needs to get paid for clearing the snow and grants dont always happen. But yes, if you do the math, $6 a shot is too much! $3 or $4 would be so much better and still cover the cost I’m sure.

  4. When you’re the only person someone depends on, and a relative, friend, child is in the hospital for weeks, and you’re paying $6 everyday, sometimes twice a day, you’re literally robbing us, and making the process so much harder and more expensive than it has to be. The days when it was a loonie to get out, I can justify that…

    • But effective public transportation.
      This city’s public transportation program is pitiful and ineffective at best.

  5. It’s the way parking fees are collected that’s more of the issue. I have no problem paying for parking, but a receipt for tax purposes would be helpful as well as an option for day/week/monthly passes instead of dropping coins in the machine on the way out.

  6. If you want to start cutting costs, lets start with the astronomical salaries paid to the management at the hospital, most of whom are hardly ever there..

  7. Sad you have to PAY to visit the sick and if someone close is in there for while say two weeks and you have to go in and out 2-3 times a day WOW shame on them for steeling money from the sick

    • Many hospitals down south will provide free parking if your visit is within a specific duration. Here regardless of it being a 5min visit you pay full price.
      My company benefits while working down there also covered hospital parking fees.

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