Fraser Health is considering a better way to charge for parking at hospitals.
At a public board meeting on Tuesday, chair Jim Sinclair told Surrey residents staff are looking at updating the current system in which one pays for an estimated amount of time when one arrives, in favour of paying for the amount of time you have stayed when you are ready to leave.
By paying as someone exits, Sinclair said, it would get rid of any time pressure patients and their families feel.
Surrey Memorial Hospital would be the first to try this new model, a Fraser Health spokesperson told Black Press Media.
Advocacy groups have called for lower parking fees at hospitals for years. In January, a non-profit organization called HospitalPayParking.ca urged health authorities to move to free parking, saying the fees “exploit” people when they are at their when they are at lowest or weakest.
Pay parking in Fraser Health hospitals brought in $14.9 million of its $3.5-billion budget last year.
Staff can waive parking fees if they pose a genuine challenge for patients and families. It did so for 5,200 parking passes on compassionate grounds in a six-month period of 2018. Some hospitals also offer subsidized rates for those with financial need.
Other improvements announced at the board meeting included adding better signage to parking lots to explain what is required to contact Fraser Health with hardship concerns.