(Stock photo)

The BC Ministry of Health issued a statement Thursday saying hospitals and other provincial healthcare facilities across British Columbia will see the reinstatement of pay parking starting on March 4th.

Parking fees have been waived at hospitals and other treatment centres since April 1st, 2020, as an early pandemic-time response measure.

But the ministry said the decision to reinstate pay parking is a measure to ensure parking stalls are available for patients, staff, volunteers, and visitors after people started abusing the system.

“Maintaining across-the-board free hospital parking is making it hard for patients, staff, volunteers and visitors to find a spot, as non-hospital users are taking advantage of the situation to park for free while conducting business that’s not hospital related,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

“These hospital parking spots must be available for those who need them most.”

According to the province, waiving the pay parking fees has cost the government $78 million in lost revenue for the provincial healthcare system.

The free parking program will continue for patients receiving dialysis treatment or undergoing cancer treatment in acute-care programs, and for parents or caregivers of children staying in the hospital overnight, the ministry said.

Volunteers will still be able to park for free, and financial hardship provisions will continue to be managed on a case-by-case basis by health authorities.

While pay parking is returning, the rate freeze that first began over four years ago will continue, according to the province.

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