Ontario hospitals that charge more than $10 a day for parking have been ordered to immediately freeze rates, and to start offering multi-day discount passes by October 1st.
Health Minister Eric Hoskins says the hospitals will have to offer five, 10 and 30-day passes that discount parking rates by 50 per cent to ease the financial burden on patients and their visitors.
Hoskins says patients get better faster when surrounded by their loved ones, and he doesn't think parking fees should be a barrier for families who have to make frequent visits to a hospital.
The Ontario Hospital Association doesn't like the idea, and says the Liberal government not only froze hospital budgets for the past four years, it also encouraged them to find new sources of revenue.
The OHA says the decision to cut their revenues by capping and discounting parking fees "could not come at a worse time.''
Each hospital will have to work with patient and family advisory groups on the details of the parking plans.The news could hurt the bottom line at Soldiers' Memorial Hospital in Orillia.
In an email, Communications spokesperson Terry Dyni says the hospital generates about $1-million in parking revenue each year.
Some of the money is put toward maintenance, the majority of the revenue is for patient care services.
Dyni says the last time OSMH adjusted its parking rate was in 2013 when the hospital changed from a $5 flat fee to a time-based system that caps out at $10 a day.
Prior to that, parking rates had not changed in a decade.
Dyni says OSMH offers weekly and monthly parking passes with discounts greater than 50 per cent.
He adds parking revenue is critically important to the hospital as Soldiers' receives just over 70 per cent of its overall funding from the Ontario government.
For Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville, the daily maximum parking rate is $8.00. There is also a $29.50 weekly parking pass available for patients, family members and other visitors who need to visit more frequently.
Brampton's Civic Hospital charges $15 a day, and in Alliston - at Stevenson Memorial - it's just $5 a day.
Grey Bruce Health Services offers 30 minutes free parking at the Owen Sound hospital, and it would cost $5 for anything longer.
There's also an $8 dollar day parking pass at the Owen Sound hospital for come and go privileges.