© Heather Taweel
Garth Mahar staffs the QEH parking toll booth.
Health P.E.I. is taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the federal government’s promise to remove the tax on hospital parking.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is the only hospital in the province that charges a fee for parking.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised recently that government will stop charging GST or HST on the parking fees.
Last week, Flaherty announced measures to amend the Excise Tax Act to eliminate the HST and GST on hospital parking for visitors and patients. Although the finance minister said the changes were effective immediately, and was quoted as saying government wants to give Canadians a break on the cost of hospital parking, Health P.E.I. is saying that isn’t exactly the case, at least not yet.
Denise Lewis Fleming, executive director of financial services and sustainability for Health P.E.I., said it’s still just at the proposal stage.
“When we actually dug into it he’s proposing legislative changes. He hasn’t actually said that they will be passed. It’s open for community consultation until the end of February,’’ Lewis Fleming told The Guardian on Tuesday.
“Once we see confirmation that the proposed changes are coming into place then we would make a decision on what would be happening to the parking rates.’’
Health P.E.I. is concerned that such a change would reduce the money that supplements its annual health care funding. It pulls in between $350,000 and $400,000 each year from parking fees at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Lewis Fleming says that money goes right back into funding health care services.
The parking rates haven’t changed at the QEH for years. People who park for 30 minutes or less still get out free.
Health P.E.I. also did not add the HST onto the parking fees when it came into effect in April 2013 so those who park there are still paying only GST and not an additional nine per cent.
“Health P.E.I. has been bearing the burden of that extra cost. It would be great to redirect what we’re bearing now into services for Islanders.’’
Health P.E.I. is remitting that extra nine per cent to the federal government on its own, and that runs about $50,000 annually so if Flaherty follows through on his promise that money would flow back into the health care services, Lewis Fleming said.
“Every dollar counts.’’