A group of volunteers trying to end pay parking at hospitals across the province say health authorities raked in more than ever in the 2019 fiscal year.
According to the group HospitalPayParking.ca, all five health B.C. authorities posted their most recent consolidated financial statements showing hospital pay parking revenues hit a combined all-time high of $36.4 million.
The increases were “well in excess of the rate of inflation,” a news release said Tuesday.
The data shared by the group shows pay parking revenues for the Northern Health Authority increased by more than 45 per cent, with $1.034 million collected in 2019, compared to $713,000 in 2018 – a difference of $321,000.
Pay parking revenues for the Interior Health Authority rose by more than 13 per cent, with $6.036 million collected this year compared to $5.328 million last year – a difference of $708,000.
|Screenshot of HospitalPayParking.ca Hospital Pay Parking – 2018 vs 2019 Revenues table.|
“British Columbians continue to shovel money into parking meters at public hospitals throughout the province despite widespread opposition,” the release said.
However, the Ministry of Health said parking rates for patients and visitors have not and will not increase.
Spokesperson Meribeth Burton told Black Press Media other variables led to larger overall parking revenues.
“All health authorities report an increase in demand and utilization,” Burton said in an email.
“Some health authorities report the addition of new parking stalls at some sites and others cite increased service hours since [Health Minister Adrian Dix] introduced and implemented the surgical and diagnostic strategy in 2017 where MRI and other procedures occur around the clock.”
In the case of Interior Health, Burton said the increase was in part due to the receipt of one-time cost recovery of more than $300,000 “because they were erroneously charged GST by their parking contractor.”
She said the freeze in rates will continue as the government reviews parking issues.
Burton also said every health authority has programs in place to support patients and visitors who have a financial hardship to ensure that parking is not a barrier to care.