The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority collected millions of dollars in parking fees at most of its hospitals and some health facilities in the last year.
Parking revenue totalled $9.9 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year from the Health Sciences Centre, the Grace, Seven Oaks and Misericordia hospitals, as well as the Riverview Health Centre, Deer Lodge and the Pan Am Clinic, according to figures obtained by CBC News under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Most of that money — about $8.4 million — came from parking facilities that the WRHA itself operates at the Health Sciences Centre, Grace Hospital, Deer Lodge and the Pan Am Clinic.
Revenue from parking facilities at the other hospitals in 2010-11 are:
- Misericordia: $447,923.19
- Riverview: $308,332.99
- Seven Oaks: $743,627.67 (2011 calendar year)
The total parking revenue from the hospitals was up 31 per cent in 2010-11 from 2008-09.
St. Boniface Hospital did not provide parking revenue figures, saying its parkade is owned and operated by an outside charity.
Officials with Victoria General Hospital said parking proceeds go to its foundation.
Concordia Hospital did not respond to CBC News's request for information.
Costs add up
The issue of hospital parking fees made headlines in November, when an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal called on hospitals in Canada to scrap the fees.
The editorial argued that hospital parking fees constitute a hidden "user fee" that add an extra burden to patients.
|Health Sciences Centre parkades||$7,039,056|
|Health Sciences Centre surface lots||$262,933|
|Pan Am Clinic||$7,420|
"We hear about the direct and indirect costs to cancer patients and their families quite often," said Erin Crawford, a spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society in Manitoba.
"Those costs all add up, and parking is one of those costs."
Dauna Crooks, a Winnipeg oncology nurse who also chairs the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, said patients and their families who have to visit hospitals regularly should get a break on parking.
Most hospitals in Winnipeg do offer reduced parking rates for long-term patients. Still, Crawford said she still hear complaints from cancer patients about parking fees.
"It's a time when people are really suffering and really struggling," she said. "They're fighting for their lives, and so anything that's an additional stress on them is challenging."
WRHA officials told CBC News most of the revenue from its parking facilities comes from staff and visitors, not patients.
They said most of the collected money goes towards maintaining parkades and lots. The rest goes into capital enhancements, such as paint and furniture for waiting rooms.