Parking at Digby General will cost more after Sept. 1, although construction of a new medical clinic has meant free parking in recent months.
©John DeMings photo
The cost of parking at Digby General Hospital is rising from three to four dollars as of Sept. 1, a move that South West Health hopes will help reduce a budget shortfall of $286,000.
The health authority announced today it has received provincial government approval for its 2014-15 budget and business plan. The budget is now over $94 million, and is dealing with higher costs for medications, and medical and surgical supplies.
A large portion of the budget shortfall is a result of a major increase in fuel transport costs. The closure last year of the Imperial Oil refinery in Dartmouth means fuel oil is now trucked from Quebec at a significantly higher cost.
Figures released by South West Health chief executive officer Blaise MacNeil predict that increased parking charges at hospitals in Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne should generate $220,000 next year, reducing the shortfall significantly.
Last year, parking revenue from the three hospitals was $825,000.
“We worked closely with directors and managers to explore all options to meet our budget targets in a way that has a minimal impact on direct patient care,” said MacNeil.
“As much as possible, we try to meet our budget targets by being more efficient, finding cost recoveries and generating revenue. Without the ability to generate some revenue, we would need to reduce or cut health services patients depend on.”
He said the decision to raise the price of hospital parking was difficult, and is just the second raise since paid parking began in 2002. Monthly parking passes will increase from $20 to $25.
"We know this will not be popular, and we apologize for the concern it will cause,” said MacNeil. “We did not make this decision without first exploring all other options.”
Parking is just one area South West Health focused on in efforts to control and reduce costs in order to maintain patient care services and protect essential jobs.
The health authority also is budgeting $165,000 to cover costs associated with the introduction new February of a new provincial holiday.