Montreal

Quebec to cap hospital parking rates, make first 2 hours free

Though it might cost about $150 million a year, Quebec's health minister says there will soon by a provincewide cap on hospital parking. The price will vary by region, but hover around $7 to $10 a day with the first two hours being free.

CAQ says it will follow through on campaign promise, but has to crunch the numbers first

While a hospital in Quebec City charges only $16 a day to park, the daily rates can be as high as $24 a day in Montreal. The CAQ says it will cap rates at around $7 to $10 a day. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

Quebec's health minister says the government is putting a cap on hospital parking rates across the province.

The first two hours will be free and daily rates will max out at around $7 to $10 depending on the region, according to Danielle McCann. 

"Most people who visit hospitals, they stay for two hours or less," she told reporters Monday. 

There are also patients who visit hospitals frequently for treatments such as dialysis or chemotherapy, she said, and "what we want, is to have a very optimal — very low — cost for all those people across Quebec."

Though hospital parking rates were lowered in 2017, daily rates still exceed $10 a day in many cases.

For example, it is free to park for 30 minutes or less at the McGill University Health Centre, but $12 for 31 to 60 minutes. It's $24 for the day. And that's less than it was in 2015 when the MUHC reduced rates due to complaints.

In the east end, it's $17 per day at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital.

The Coalition Avenir Québec vowed to cap hospital parking rates during last year's election campaign. However, it is not clear when this new cap will be put into place.

"We are reviewing everything right now," said McCann.

Compensating hospital foundations

There are concerns the reduction in parking rates could hurt hospital foundations, which rely on the revenue to buy medical equipment and other items.

McCann said the government is working on a budget that would be used to compensate the foundations. She says that could cost up to $150 million a year.

The Coalition Avenir Québec vowed to cap hospital parking rates during last year's election campaign. However, it is not clear when this new cap will be put into place. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBB)

The province's finance minister is still crunching the numbers and should be making a formal announcement soon, she said.

McCann said the government is also looking at ways to ensure that visitor parking is restricted to those visiting the hospital, and not those who work in the area or want to shop nearby.

McCann has already put a freeze on parking rates across the province and parking is now free at some long-term care facilities, known in French as CHSLDs, said Marguerite Blais, minister responsible for seniors.

Parking rates are under review for CHSLDs as well, she said.

CHSLDs should be free, Fortin says

André Fortin, the Liberal Party's health critic, said parking at all CHSLDs should be free.

"Since this is a real living environment, it must be inviting for those who wish to visit their loved ones," he said.

When in opposition, the CAQ had heavily criticized the Liberals for inaction on the issue. Today, Fortin said Liberals were already working to reduce hospital parking rates and had made it a campaign promise as well.

Now that the CAQ government has been handed the tools to do the job, Fortin said "we sincerely hope that this measure will take effect as soon as possible."

It's crucial, he said, that patients and people who visit loved ones don't have to pay large sums of money with each trip to the hospital.

With files from Cathy Senay

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