We know that paying for parking can place additional stress or frustration on people visiting a hospital for care, or visiting loved ones receiving care.
But we also know we need to manage our healthcare dollars to help provide the best patient care possible.
That’s why it’s important to understand that our parking facilities need to be self-sufficient.
No healthcare funding is used to support parkades and no tax dollars are used in the construction or maintenance of most AHS parkades. Healthcare dollars are used for healthcare, not parkades.
Therefore, in order to provide parking, we must charge for it. Revenue collected by parking fees goes back into the maintenance, upkeep, and repairs of current AHS parkades. It’s also used to pay off the construction costs associated with building new parkades across the province.
While the provincial government budgets pay for the construction of new health facilities or infrastructure, AHS is responsible for the construction of any new above and underground parkades.
We do this by taking on a long term debt financing with government loans we repay over 20 years, using the funds we collect through parking fees.
Last year AHS’ revenue from parking fees was approximately $77 million. Of that $33.2M was used for operating and maintenance costs, $31.2M to pay off interest and principal for debts (costs to build past parkades) and $12.6M went into a reserve fund which will be used to build future parkades.
We recognize that paying for parking can be an extra financial burden on our staff, visitors and guests and to compensate for that we try to keep parking rates below fair market value.
At our long-term care sites, AHS has reduced parking rates for patients and visitors. Monthly parking passes are available to patients and visitors at facilities across the province, at rates well below market value.
As well, AHS provides compassionate parking passes to people facing financial hardship on a case-by-case basis.
Some of our facilities also have volunteer driver programs, which offer free transportation to and from our facilities for treatment.
And, we encourage our Parking Service patrollers to speak with vehicle owners, whenever possible, before issuing parking tickets.
An annual market analysis of national parking rates helps AHS match and compare Alberta communities with other communities nationally of similar size, parking demand and parking market conditions to ensure we offer consistent, and equitable parking services and fair rates.
In comparison, AHS parking fees are usually in the low to medium range compared with other private and public parking facilities in most markets.
We try to be as fair as possible with how much we charge for parking, because we know it can be frustrating for some.
But the alternative is if we didn’t charge we would need to take tens of millions of dollars out of the healthcare system to maintain, operate and build parkades. That would not be the responsible thing to do.