An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT’S BEEN MORE THAN A WEEK since we talked about lack of parking at Royal Inland Hospital so — now that the Clinical Services Building elevators are working again and everything’s back to normal — let’s talk some more about what should be normal.
Namely, parking fees.
A group with a website called hospitalpayparking.ca says Interior Health stats obtained under Freedom of Information show that only half the parking tickets issued in the health region are ever paid.
It’s even worse at Royal Inland, where close to 8,000 tickets were issued in one year but only 3,100 have been paid. If all the tickets had been paid, at $57 a throw, they would have brought in about $450,000 but rang up closer to $169,000.
Obviously, something isn’t working. It raises the question of whether paid parking is worth it. Imperial Parking, the contracted enforcer, understandably defends paid parking, and so does Interior Health. Their rationale, though, is based on false logic.
They say parking fees are necessary to help pay for the health care system. If not for the fees, they contend, it couldn’t afford a lot of much needed equipment. That sounds reasonable but it actually injects a user-pay system into our health care.
Using their rationale, they could say we should pay for things like blood tests because we need money to do them. If we wanted a healthcare system like they have in the U.S. we could do that.
But we don’t. In Canada, we believe everyone has a right to healthcare including access to hospitals. Parking is how we get access. The issue comes down to whether stressed out patients and their families should pay for parking, or whether everybody should help with the cost.
Many places have opted for the latter, and there’s nothing stopping it from happening here.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.