Parking fees earn Sudbury hospital $1M profit
Hospital officials say underfunding from province means hospital forced to look elsewhere for revenue
The hospital in Sudbury makes about $1 million a year from its parking lots.
Documents obtained by CBC News through a Freedom of Information request show that Health Sciences North brings in millions of dollars in revenue outside of its annual funding from the province. The documents show what is stated as "other revenue" has jumped to $28 million in 2010 — up $5 million from the year before.
Much of that revenue is from providing services to smaller hospitals, long-term care homes and other public agencies.
But the one thing the hospital runs more like a business is parking.
Health Sciences North brought in about $3 million from parking last year and, after expenses were subtracted, put $1 million in its bank account.
Chief operating officer Joe Pilon said Health Sciences North only gets about 85 per cent of what it needs to run its operations from the province and has to look for money elsewhere.
"We need to find other sources of revenue, because the government doesn't want to impose higher tax rates," Pilon said.
Hospital needs to be 'appropriately funded'
Even with $28 million in extra revenue, the Sudbury hospital still carries a $3 million deficit.
But some don't like the idea of public institutions looking for ways to make a profit just to balance their books.
"I don't like that at all," said France Gelinas, the NDP health critic and MPP for Nickel Belt. "I think the health care system is a priority for Ontarians, and it should be appropriately funded."
Pilon said other hospitals in the province go even further to make up the funding gap.
"Some of them certainly charge a lot more for parking than we do," he said. "We look at our market rates, we recognize that, in northern Ontario, parking rates are lower than in southern Ontario. Some of them do try to do a lot more ancillary business."
Pilon noted that business includes hiring out hospital employees as consultants.
Health Sciences North will release its latest financial statement Thursday night, and will address how the Sudbury hospital plans to eliminate its $3 million deficit by September.