Eastern Health is defending the practice of charging patients parking fees at hospitals after an editorial in a Canadian medical journal called for the abolishment of the fees and argued they contravene the Canada Health Act.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal said the fees prevent some patients from getting the care they need.
"Parking fees at hospitals for patients are a barrier to patient care and they should be abolished," Rajendra Kale, the journal's interim editor-in-chief, told CBC News in a phone-interview from Ottawa.
Newfoundland and Labrador's largest health authority disagrees. In an email to CBC News, it said the health authority does not believe charging parking fees is contrary to the health act.
"We have no information to indicate we are in contravention of the Canada Health Act by charging to park at a number of our facilities in St. John’s, including the Health Sciences Centre, St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital and the Waterford Hospital," a spokesperson wrote.
The health authority collected more than $900,000 last year from parking fees at hospitals in St. John's.
Its annual budget is more than $1.2 billion.
In St. John’s, cancer patient Collette Balsom agreed with the CMAJ's Kale.
"I know with radiation therapy, the machines break down, or have broken down in the past, you come out and you have a ticket on your car. It's extra stress," she said.
A woman who was at the Health Sciences Centre to visit her mother Monday also called for an end to hospital parking fees for people visiting sick relatives too.
"My mom has been in here for two weeks now and I have to pay $8 to $10 a day just for parking to spend time with my mother who is sick. I mean it's ridiculous," said Dianne Flemming.