Yesterday I drove my mother to a doctor appointment for some tests, which was in a clinic attached to the hospital in Newmarket. The waiting and tests took about one and a half hours, which was actually pretty prompt service. When we left we found out that the parking fee was $10.50. While it was little surprise to me, my mother was flabbergast and the amount. It is $3 per half hour, and you are charged for the full half hour even if you are a minute into it. HST tax is also added on top.
My personal doctor is in the same building. When I visit him I usually park on adjacent side streets, having go about five blocks away (because of understandable “No Parking” signs) and walking for 15 minutes or so in order to save the parking money. Clearly, a lot of people visiting a doctor, especially if they are ill, would not be in a position to do so. They are held hostage to the extortion of these parking fees. We all know that waiting for a doctor appointment can often be a multi-hour ordeal. Your doctor’s appointment, with a two hour wait, would cost you almost $14 ( and one minute more would put it at $17). Visiting sick friends or relatives in the hospital amounts to the same charges. Going to visit a sick or dying grandmother will cost you $6 per hour plus tax.
When I inquired about these extreme parking fees I was told that the parking is not controlled by the hospital. That really translates to the fact that at some point the hospital chose to privatize their parking service, -which I’m sure they did not do for free. They either sold or leased the rights to parking for, hopefully, a healthy amount of cash (-no pun intended-). The hospital benefits by not having to worry about maintenance or snow removal, and receiving a large lump of revenue. The parking authority benefits from charging extortionist prices to people who don’t have any choice except to pay. The public benefits by, …umm… I guess they don’t.
This is the result of privatizing facilities that are intended to serve essential public needs. Privatization is often the buzz word in conservative politics. Right now the right wing, Ford influences in Toronto municipal politics are talking about privatization in order to reduce the budget. Privatization of medical and education operations often creep up in provincial PC policies. Foolishly they have forgotten that the private sector demands a profit on top of operating fees (which public ownership doesn’t require) and that the more essential a service is, the more demanding they can be about that profit. Supply and demand; that’s the right wing way. So, services that are privatized, especially ones where there is little competition, are going to cost the users more than they would if they are public controlled (and where profits are not the guiding principle). It is often said that privatization will keep down costs because of market competition. This is a myth. Where’s the market competition for the parking at the hospital? Where would it be for the Zoo, or for the TTC? It’s just another game of smoke and mirrors. Privatization is a way of putting more profit in the hands of particular individuals, -and when we’re talking politics, often those particular individuals are the friends of the politicians. At least it seems to be that way right now in Toronto politics.
And the result is that people, who have little choice about visiting a hospital or a doctor, are required to pay ridiculous prices for parking to a private company which has no shame in fleecing you when you go to visit a sick friend.