June 26, 2017

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Hospital parking fees hit cancer patients hard

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/2/2016 (510 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Canadian Cancer Society in Manitoba says patients and their families deserve a break from the high cost of parking around local treatment centres.

Erin Crawford, director of public issues with the CCS, said the cost of hospital parking is an issue that comes up "over and over and over again" in conversation with patients and their families.

The multi-level parkade near the St Boniface Hospital.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The multi-level parkade near the St Boniface Hospital.

A report by the cancer society in 2012 also identified parking as a significant cost for patients — along with loss of income and a slew of other unexpected expenses.

"When you think about it, it’s probably the worst time of your life. It’s probably the scariest. You don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s stressful. It’s awful. And then you’re shelling out money for parking," said Crawford.

"Many people would describe it as the straw that broke the camel’s back," she said.

A Free Press report on Saturday revealed daily parking at some Winnipeg hospitals, including parkades and garages near CancerCare Manitoba, can cost up to $20 a day.

Weekly and monthly passes are available at several city hospitals, but they are not always well publicized. In fact, at one institution — Concordia — weekly passes appear to be rationed.

In its report four years ago on the financial hardships of cancer, the cancer society said one farm family spent an estimated $880 on parking alone over 44 days during 22 trips to Winnipeg and four to Brandon when their daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Crawford said the cancer society wants the province to take action on parking costs. She said the organization will be bringing the issue up with political parties in the coming months. She noted that when the CCS did its study, Charlottetown offered free parking for patients receiving cancer treatments.

"We’d like to see some commitment to address the problem. Right now it’s something that is being borne far too significantly by the patient and by the patient’s family," Crawford said.

Ron Lemieux, Manitoba’s minister of consumer protection, said last week he wants to review hospital parking costs.

Several hospitals offer weekly and monthly passes to ease the financial burden. The weekly rates, in Winnipeg, range from $35 to $52.50.

However, a Free Press reader complained when she attempted to purchase a $40 weekly pass at Concordia Hospital three weeks ago, she was told by security they were out of them.

"I walked away really ticked off, feeling that hospital revenues were far more important than offering a bit of a break to a family of a patient," she said in an email.

Melissa Hoft, a spokeswoman for the WRHA, confirmed only a limited number of weekly passes are available at Concordia. She said the matter is under review.

Hoft said there are no limits or restrictions to the number of long-term special rate passes available at St. Boniface, Seven Oaks and Victoria hospitals or at Health Sciences Centre.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for CancerCare Manitoba said the organization occasionally receives complaints about parking, but the main issue tends to be availability rather than cost.

Judy Edmond said another common complaint is about tickets received for city metered parking on the street.

She said CancerCare sends patients information packages that include details about parking options before treatment begins.

"We give them that information before the first appointment," she said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Larry Kusch.

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Winnipeg hospital parking rates

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