Pierre Touchette, 71, undergoes hemodialysis treatments three times a week at Pierre-Le Gardeur hospital in Terrebonne. Until last spring, the Repentigny resident did not pay any fees to park his car at the hospital center. But since April, the CISSS de Lanaudière has asked him for $48.50 per month. “It’s abusive! he said. It already costs me $30 in gas per week for my transportation to the hospital. »
The retiree denounces the brutal imposition of these new fees in the midst of high inflation. Especially since Pierre Touchette estimates that it costs less to the public treasury by going there by car rather than using the adapted transport to which he would be entitled. For him, dialysis is a question of survival. “If I don’t do it for two weeks, I’m dead.” It stops there. »
The South Lanaudière Users’ Committee is contesting the decision of the regional CISSS to charge parking fees to hemodialysis and oncology patients as well as parents of newborns hospitalized in neonatology. In the past, these customers benefited from free parking. “They are very vulnerable people, and financially speaking, they are not rolling in gold – sometimes precisely because of their illness,” indicates the president of the committee, Louise Henrichon. What we are asking for is free service. »
They are very vulnerable people, and financially speaking, they are not rolling in gold – precisely, sometimes, because of their illness. What we are asking for is free service.
The Council for the Protection of the Sick supports the committee’s demands. He also addressed the complaints commissioner of the CISSS de Lanaudière and the Québec Ombudsman on behalf of the citizens of the region. “What is a little insulting is that when we look at the 2022-2023 financial statements of the CISSS de Lanaudière, we see that the establishment has an annual surplus generated by parking activities of around 3.4 million, said the CEO of the organization, Mr.e Paul G. Brunet. It’s a little cheap to charge parking fees to these patients. »
Fees in accordance with a ministerial directive
The CISSS de Lanaudière responds that it must “comply with the directive from the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) relating to parking activities, to which all establishments are subject.”
In force since June 2020, this directive provides patients and visitors with free parking for the first two hours and sets a maximum daily rate (between $7 and $10.75, depending on the region). It also provides a 50% reduced rate for “frequent users” who must come to a facility “at least 10 times a month to receive care such as chemotherapy treatments, dialysis, etc. “.
According to the MSSS fee schedule, the CISSS de Lanaudière can impose monthly fees of $48.50 (50% of $97) on “frequent users”. The MSSS specifies, however, in an email to Duty, that the prices listed in the directive are “maximums”. “An establishment can have lower costs,” we write.
Reduced rates and the clienteles entitled to them vary depending on the region, noted The duty.
The CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, for example, grants “a preferential rate of $32 per month” to oncology and hemodialysis patients, but not to parents whose children are in neonatology. At the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, it is indicated that “the fees for frequent visitors to the Lakeshore General Hospital are currently lower than government rates”, but that “they will be harmonized shortly, in accordance with the price list.
At the Suroît hospital in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, oncology and hemodialysis patients benefit from “a rate of $1 per visit”, according to the CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest. At the Anna-Laberge hospital in Châteauguay, the cost of the monthly parking permit for people undergoing hemodialysis is $13.33.
“Less problematic” than before
The general director of the Quebec Cancer Foundation, Marco Décelles, agrees that in an ideal world, oncology patients, whose chemotherapy lasts many hours, would have access to parking without paying a penny. “All hospitals that are willing and able to offer it free of charge, this is consistent with the position we defend at the Quebec Cancer Foundation: can we focus on the disease and not add a financial burden to seriously ill people? »
The fact remains that, according to him, parking fees are “much less problematic” than before they were capped in 2020. “In certain hospitals in large urban centers, we had rates of $24 or $26 per day,” recalls- he. The first two free hours also represent progress, according to him, particularly for radiotherapy patients, whose “treatments last around thirty minutes”.
Hemodialysis patients can access a financial assistance program from the MSSS which reimburses travel-related costs, such as mileage and parking. “But it’s not reimbursed straight away. Very few people know about it [parmi nos usagers] », deplores Louise Henrichon. According to the CISSS de Lanaudière, 116 people undergoing hemodialysis currently benefit from this program.