Queen Elizabeth Hospital parking fees may go down

Teresa Wright
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Debbie Heald, Queen Elizabeth Hospital parking lot security employee, takes a ticket from a motorist leaving the parking lot Wednesday. Health Minister Doug Currie said in the legislature Wednesday that he may look at the possibility of providing price relief to QEH visitors using the parking lot.

Complaints about unfair financial burden prompt Health Minister Doug Currie to ask Health P.E.I whether any relief can be offered

When Amanda Livingston and her family went to say their final goodbyes to her uncle at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, they had to pay to park.

“It’s the last thing you want to think about at a time like that,” Livingston said.

She also had to pay to park her vehicle each time she visited her grandmother.

It’s a nominal parking fee, but when her grandmother was kept in hospital for more than six months, the fees began to add up.

“We had to limit our visiting time to under a half-hour sometimes so we wouldn’t get charged,” Livingston said.

“We just didn’t have the money every single day to stay with her for hours when we would have to pay for parking … I know it’s not a lot of money, but we live paycheque to paycheque and sometimes we just didn’t have it.”

Concerns about the QEH parking fees are raised regularly. Politicians hear often from individuals like Livingston who consider it an unfair financial burden for patients and their families.

That’s why now, Health Minister Doug Currie says he has asked Health P.E.I. to look at whether some relief could be offered.

“I think that we need to look at the policy, look at some areas of that policy that could be a little more flexible, particularly for individuals who may have a loved one or family member admitted for an extended period of time,” Currie said.

He noted some patients have been medically discharged, but remain because they require a level of care but are waiting for a  bed in a long-term care facility. Those people must pay for their care at the QEH, yet their families still also must pay for parking.

He also pointed out the QEH is the central acute-care hospital in the province and often patients from rural areas must incur the expense of travelling to Charlottetown to visit loved ones or attend appointments.

They too must pay to park.

Health P.E.I. has long said the $350,000 in annual revenues generated from the parking fees are needed to help fund essential health services at QEH.

Currie says that revenue is important, especially at a time of increased pressures on P.E.I.’s health budget.

But has been hearing the concerns of many Islanders who feel unfairly taxed by these fees.

He’s not making any promises, however.

“I’m not prepared right now to make any changes until Health P.E.I. comes back to me with some numbers.”

Opposition health critic James Aylward brought the issue up during budget estimates this week.

He says it may seem like a small issue, but Islanders feel it is unnecessary financial burden, especially since all other hospitals in the province offer free parking.

“(Islanders) feel like they’re being nickeled and dimed,” he said.

“The hospital is paid for by taxpayers, it’s an essential service that we all rely on.”

Aylward noted it was a key issue on the doorsteps during the last election, and also that the cost of fees and services have been raised substantially by the province over the last few years.

“It’s not big money but it’s just nickel and diming and people are getting fed up,” Aylward said.

Currie said he hopes to provide some relief on the fees, but was careful not to promise to eliminate them altogether.

If you ask Livingston, that’s doesn’t go far enough.

“I think it should be free,” she said.

“The workers there don’t have to pay, so why should we? Does Doug Currie pay to go in there? Something has to be done.”

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Islanders

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • April
    April 24, 2014 - 21:10

    I have been in the situation of having loved one in the QEH for extended time and I didn't like having to pay and really couldn't afford it but I also believe it's for a good cause so I usually shut up and pay up. Paying for hospital parking is common place in the rest of the country . I agree with nitpick with the debt we are in, we cant afford free anything! We are blessed to live in country that provides the hospital services that it does so we really shouldn't complain about having to pay a couple loonies to access those services.

  • Jerry Only
    April 24, 2014 - 18:40

    If health pei stopped paying for the QEH foundations salaries then everyone could park for free. Taxpayer dollars funding a nonprofits salary costs directly is where the real story is. Big $

    • Cornelius B.
      April 24, 2014 - 19:27

      If not wanting to pay the QEH Foundation staff, who do you propose looks after the fund raising for the foundation? Who runs the telethons and other fund raisers? Do you honestly expect volunteers to administer and run an entity that handles hundreds of thousands of dollars a year?

  • Is It Necessary
    April 24, 2014 - 17:27

    If these funds are needed for the hospital to operate than there's something wrong. Our tax dollars should be providing enough for the hospital to operate. Parking fees should be providing a few extras and a few niceties, not the vitals. Perhaps we need to hold bake sales and car washes to raise money for things like year-long parties and travel expenses for politicians and let our tax dollars do what they're supposed to do.

  • Corrupt bunch
    April 24, 2014 - 17:04

    How about stop paying the contractor hundreds of thousands of dollars to haul shale into the teepee and haul it directly from a pit with the government trucks that we pay the employees now for.. That should cover parking and then some ??????? Just a wasteful made up program to fill supporters pockets

  • oberst
    April 24, 2014 - 15:29

    If course it should be free, - why should Charlottetown have to pay when both Summerside, Montague and what is left of the other hospitals have free parking. Further I am sick of the charade of the Health Minister asking Health PEI, - he calls the shots over Health PEI, - so don't insult our intelligence, - Mr. Minister

  • fromaway
    April 24, 2014 - 15:07

    I had to spend a day at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. A one day parking pass with in and out privileges is $26.00. The general rate is $4.75 per half hour with a maximum charge of $24.00. I also live paycheque to paycheque; Islanders are lucky their parking rates are so low!

    • The observer from Stratford
      April 24, 2014 - 22:04

      Thanks fromaway for the example. While lots of things cost more in PEI, parking is not one of them. The people here have no idea of how low the charges here are. I was a patient at Sunnybrook twice in 2005 2006 each time for a week. I told my wife to visit only on alternate days. The parking costs were too high for a daily visit.

    • June
      April 24, 2014 - 22:40

      I agree 100 % with you, the fees are very reasonable in Charlottetown and we are fortunate to have such affordable parking.

  • Shirley
    April 24, 2014 - 14:16

    The transit is a great option yes but is not available when loved ones have to leave family members sometimes in the middle of the night or come in to the hospital in the wee hours of morning which happens with thermally ill family members as I well know and if you come thorough the night and go to leave later in the morning you have to pay to get out. Anyone who has not had a very ill family member be at the hospital for a great length of time can realize how expensive this can become for family members who come to be with their loved one when needed believe me it is not the cost of a Tim Horton's coffee.

  • Caregiver
    April 24, 2014 - 13:39

    Perhaps a solution might be to allow patients that need assistance with bathing, eating, medications etc. to have one family member designated as "caregiver". The caregiver could be given a pass for free parking. The same person wouldn't have to be there all the time but could pass the no charge parking on to an alternate caregiver. Something that not many people seem to know is that daily parking receipts can be turned in to be applied against the cost of a weekly or monthly pass. If you are not sure how long your family member will be in hospital it's a good idea to save your receipts.

  • Been there
    April 24, 2014 - 12:38

    Some people are missing the point. This lady is speaking out for those who have critically ill relatives, perhaps who need a family member there to be with them. No parking fees should be charged to those who sit with a dying member of their family. It also is probably taking some of the concern off nurses and saves time to have someone who is able to watch over their loved ones in case they need medical attention that the patent can't ask for. A nominal parking fee would be acceptable for this situation....but the cost would certainly add up if a family member who comes to give care and ends up paying for the whole day. Some families only have one or two members that can do this and parking fees get to be unaffordable after awhile. Please give these people a break and let the ones who go there for short visits pay....it wouldn't hurt to lower this rate also.

  • other place
    April 24, 2014 - 11:41

    Last visit to Sydney Regional the parking was a flat 2 dollars....period. That is no problem.

  • "OH MY"
    April 24, 2014 - 11:36

    PARKING FEES SHOULD BE ABOLISHED OVER THE YEARS ..HOW MANY DOLLARS HAVE WE ALL DONATED ONE WAY OR ANOTHER TOWARD THE DIFFERNT FUND DRIVES ie EQUIPMENT ,ETC AT THE QEH.. THE MONEY WE HAVE SAVED THE PROVINCE IS UNREAL .. A FAIR SHAKE WOULD BE FOR THE PROVINCE TO LIFT THE CHARGE ALL TOGETHER AND HAVE FREE PARKING A GOODWILL JESTURE TO THANK EVERYONE, THE BIG BIG $$$$$$$ WE SAVE THE PROVINCE, SO THEY COULD HELP SOME OF THEIR OWN .....JUST A THOUGHT................

  • albert
    April 24, 2014 - 11:00

    For those who compare everything to the cost of a TIM HORTONS cup of coffee should be aware, that for some of us, it is the cost of a loaf of much needed bread, - us who cannot buy a cup of coffee at Tims . Perhaps a donation box could be erected at the entrance/exit and those who are flush can donate as they wish.

  • townie22
    April 24, 2014 - 10:47

    i agree it SHOULD be free, but can our health care system afford the loss of income? my brother was in hospital in Moncton 22 years ago, and we had to pay for parking there way back then. i also believe the city transit bus does go to the QEH, there is a bus shelter there, and people were in it the other evening. also, passes by the day/week/month are available, and quite a bit cheaper.

  • nitpicker
    April 24, 2014 - 10:36

    We can get outraged all we want, but the reality is that Health Care is mega expensive and nearly bankrupt. So we can't afford free anything. Here's the solution: offer a weeklong pass for $5. Or whatever charge makes sense. That way those who need to go to the QEH repeatedly during a given period of time get a break and don't have to watch the clock or fish for change every time they come and go.

  • MFH
    April 24, 2014 - 09:51

    Parking at the hospital should be free. The charge is just another tax and is not fair. I think the government has a enough funds to cover what the parking brings in.

  • The Observer from Stratford
    April 24, 2014 - 09:21

    I hope everyone realizes how out of touch with the rest of Canada this city is. Most of Canada would kill for the low parking rates in Charlottetown both in town and at the QEH. $1.50/hr with, I assume, a daily limit (how much?) is as corey notes less than a couple of coffees. Or perhaps there should be special rates for people who are going to be parking there every day for an extended period. That might alleviate the pain for those who find themselves in that unfortunate position. And finally, here's an even more radical suggestion. Run a bus at regular intervals from downtown/Charlottetown Mall to the hospital throughout the day. No need to park at the QEH at all. Problem solved.

    • LA
      April 24, 2014 - 11:06

      The bus does do exactly that. I've used it many times and it's very convenient.

    • The Observer from Stratford
      April 24, 2014 - 12:27

      @la: So how come the bus hasn't been suggested to this family as an alternative? Frankly I was not aware that there is a bus service to the hospital. That would seem to be a good solution for those who can't afford the parking.

    • No Idea
      April 24, 2014 - 14:04

      @Stratford. I couldn't have said it better. Parking is a fact of life at hospitals across the country. Use the bus and stay all day for nothing.

  • corey
    April 24, 2014 - 08:18

    Come on people it's $1.50/hr......it's for a good cause and how many of you drink 2 or 3 Tim's coffees a day without even flinching!!!!

  • Yes I Agree
    April 24, 2014 - 08:06

    Yes I agree that parking at our main Hospital in PEI should be free . As James say's , this government is nickel & diming us to death . We are the highest taxed people in Canada & still they hit us everywhere . Example - I purchased a piece of property a short time ago & got the surprise of a land purchase tax right off the top . The government got more from the transaction than the lawyer that done the work . The goughing of fee's in the last few years is totally gone out of sight . No wonder the building industry is slowed to a crawl . This gov. has killed it with their greed .

  • Shirley
    April 24, 2014 - 08:05

    I think parking should be free like it is in Summerside we already pay taxes for the hospital so why are we been asked to pay to park also ? I know in the past I have had to pay a lot just to be with family loved ones who were thermally ill and needed family members with them for extended periods of time and then to come out and get tagged with this fee on top of everything else is not nice. Drop the fee so we can go visit loved ones and friends without having to worry about how long you can afford to stay because of what you will be charged when you leave not all of us has that extra money to pay on top of having someone ill who needs their loved ones by their side.

  • James
    April 24, 2014 - 07:34

    They spend $320,000,000 on salaries, that is a third of a billion dollars. $350,000 goes into $320,000,000 nine hundred and fourteen times. 1/914 shouldn't be a big deal. Abolish the parking fees, or make the staff pay to park, they can afford it more so than visitors! Or maybe even have a bake sale every week or a lemonade stand!

  • Ashley
    April 24, 2014 - 07:30

    And here's a little something most people don't know...the handicap parking spaces (which are not in the lot, but up closer to the doors) have meters, however you are not required to put any money in them! I have a disabled family member who unfortunatly frequents the QEH, and had been pumping change into the meters for years. Then one day one of the parking lot attendants told her it wasn't necessary, and never was! She could barely afford the gas to drive in let alone pay for parking. You think they would have put a sign up or better yet, remove the meters. But no, they still cash in on people who are most likely living on only a disability cheque every month!

    • LA
      April 24, 2014 - 11:19

      That also means that if you are officially disabled you can park free, but if you have cancer or a broken leg you have to pay even if you are similiarily unable to walk long distances.

    • Barb
      April 25, 2014 - 14:40

      Your family member could not have been pumping money in to those meters for years because they have only been there for about a year.....

  • frequent user
    April 24, 2014 - 07:21

    IT not just low income ..but anybody who has a loved one in QEH for long peroids .......it is money that could be used for home care ,comfort for the patient etc.....we pay taxes and contribute to the QEH in fundraisers...they can a least park way cheaper than this or no fee at all.

  • Holly
    April 24, 2014 - 06:58

    I think the parking is very unfair I went in for surgery they got me already and in the bed I was waiting 3hrs then told it was cancelled when I left I said I don't think I should have to pay parking I was in for surgery which then was cancelled and was made wait 3hrs for nothing paid my gas to get in the lost work and then had to pay for the incinvince I was very unhappy and was told to bad you have to pay

    • huh
      April 24, 2014 - 13:38

      Meanwhile in another part of the world, people walk for miles to get clean water, only to find the well dried up. I can emphasize with those who need make repeated visits to the QEH because of a serious illness. For the rest of the entitled amongst us, count your blessings and pay your loonie.

    • Sharon
      April 24, 2014 - 20:24

      Is there anything we as Islanders don't whine about? It doesn't matter what government does or doesn't do, someone isn't happy. Over spend and we are up in arms. Under spend and we are up in arms. We are blessed to live in a country where we have access to medical care. I had a family member spend 2 months in the hospital and I was there every single day...and my thoughts were on how fortunate that I was that I had the chance to spend this time with a loved one...not on the clock ticking out in the parking lot. Be thankful and count your blessings once in awhile.