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'The most un-patient-friendly system': Mother unhappy with new pay-by-plate parking at Saskatoon hospitals

A new pay-by-plate parking system introduced this week at two Saskatoon hospitals is not sitting well with its visitors.

Visitors must anticipate the length of their stay and pay upfront

Lisa Glines resides in Martensville, Sask., but frequents a hospital in Saskatoon up to five times per week. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)

A new parking system introduced this week at two Saskatoon hospitals is not sitting well with some visitors.

On Tuesday, the City and St. Paul's hospitals upgraded to a pay-by-plate system. This means visitors must anticipate the length of their stay and pay upfront — as opposed to the old system, which had patrons paying at the end of their visit.

"It is the most un-patient-friendly system that they could have devised," said Lisa Glines.

Glines resides in Martensville, Sask., but frequents various hospitals in the city anywhere from two to five times per week.

"As a parent of [two] children with medical needs, my focus needs to be on my children and not on my parking," she said, adding that she also fosters medically fragile children.

According to Glines, her time spent in hospitals is too unpredictable to be able to anticipate the length of stay.

Lisa Glines' two children suffer from a chronic illness. She also fosters medically fragile children. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

"If the physician is delayed or if there are tests that need to be performed, and there's a backlog of patients waiting for that test, that's really out of our hands as patients and family."

Glines said she currently spends somewhere between $50 to $100 per month on hospital parking and is anticipating her bill, with the new system, to be "astronomically more."

'We did a lot of research'

According to Lisa White, director of support services with the Saskatchewan Health Authority,  fees will remain the same with the pay-by-plate system.

The new machines offer an option to purchase one to seven hours at $3 per hour. After that, there is a one-day and 30-day pass available. Adding time is done by returning to a pay machine or through a mobile app called Hang Tag.

Saskatoon's City Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital have implemented a pay-by-plate parking system. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

"We did a lot of research across Western Canada — not only looking at hospitals in municipalities, but other places that use large parking systems — and this is the technology that everybody's using right now," White said.

White added that the health authority is hoping to perfect the pay-by-plate system before implementing it at Royal University Hospital.