Moncton Hospital Parking Fees Februaty 16, 2012 Times & Transcript

Parking fee explanation disgraceful: advocate
écile Cassista expresses outrage over money collected being used to attend political fundraiser


FREDERICTON - News that $5,000 from parking fees collected at New Brunswick hospitals was used to attend a political fund-raiser is disgraceful, a seniors advocate says. Cécile Cassista said yesterday that the Horizon Health Network's explanation that money collected from parking fees is used to pay for participation in community events should prompt a new look at the burden those levies impose on users.

'People can't afford to go visit their loved ones in the hospital, they can't afford that … It's very costly,' said Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights.

'Every day I've gone to a hospital I've had to pay, even for a medical checkup. That's unacceptable.' Cassista said that until now, she, like many others, never stopped to consider where the money was going, but she said she wouldn't have thought it was leaving the hospital budget.

'In hindsight, I would have thought it was going back into the hospital sector, into the health-care system. But now I hear they're buying tickets for political parties, that's absolutely no question they shouldn't be doing that.' An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in November said parking fees at hospitals flout the founding principles of the Canada Health Act, which states Canadians should have access to health care without financial or other barriers.

The editorial, by interim editorin-chief Dr. Rajendra Kale, states the charges interfere with patient care and should be dropped by Canadian hospitals.

Kale was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Last fall, he wrote that hospitals justify parking fees as much-needed sources of revenue, 'and will look to (provincial health) ministers to make good such losses.' But while hospitals 'rake in several million dollars from parking fees, the net revenue from parking is likely to be around one per cent of the total revenue,' he wrote.

Horizon Health recently ruled that parking fees will be introduced at the regional hospital in Miramichi.

Cassista said that if parking fees are going to remain in place, health authorities should remain accountable for every penny they spend.

'There are better places for that money,' she said. She would like to see that money go to help home-care support.

'Parking is like a cash cow to them, obviously, if they're just handing it out for political rallies,' Cassista said. 'I think it's just disgraceful, quite frankly.'
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