Manitoba NDP pitches free hospital parking but short on details

By | August 14, 2019

New Democrats say they’ll give Manitobans two hours of free parking at hospitals if they’re elected on Sept. 10, but they can’t explain how it would be done.

Many of the parking lots at Manitoba hospitals aren’t owned by the provincial government — they’re the property of not-for-profit hospital corporations.

“We will essentially just buy out the parking from them,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Wednesday morning. 

Kinew said he would work with the corporations to compensate them for the revenue loss.

He said it would cost $3 million a year, but did not provide a breakdown of how the party arrived at the figure. The pledge would include surface parking lots, but not city-run street parking.

previous CBC article said the parking revenue from Health Sciences Centre, Grace, Seven Oaks and Misericordia hospitals, Riverview Health Centre, Deer Lodge and the Pan Am Clinic totalled $9.9 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Kinew said people shouldn’t have to stress about parking while visiting a loved one.

“It is the last thing you want to worry about,” he said Wednesday morning at La Verendrye Park.

Kinew commended Collin Kennedy, a cancer patient who protested high parking costs by filling a city parking meter with spray foam. He died late last year.

Kinew said Manitobans should be able to “figure out” how to make the free two hours last eight hours. 

“I know Manitobans are good at taking advantage of a deal,” he said. “I am not going to spell it out on camera, but I am sure Manitobans will figure out how to use this initiative to ensure they get free parking whenever they get to a hospital.”

Progressive Conservative Cameron Friesen described the pledge as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” 

“It shows that the NDP has not consulted,” he said. “We know the parking lots are not run by the hospitals and we know in many cases they are owned by foundations.… Profits generated by foundations go right back into making a stronger health-care system.”

The promise would extend to all hospitals in Manitoba.