The Ontario government is looking to ease the pain of parking at a hospital.

It is freezing parking rates for the next three years beginning today. And it is demanding a break for frequent users on multi-day passes.

Spend a few hours visiting a friend at the Ottawa Hospital or going for appointments yourself and it will cost you a maximum of $13 to park there.

“It’s far too high, as far as I’m concerned,” says one man as he leaves the parking lot.

“I think they're very expensive,” says another driver, “especially when you have to come here on a regular basis for tests and blood work.”

The Liberal government agrees and today froze parking fees for the next 3 years and for those lots charging more than $10 a day, they will have to offer multi-day passes of 5, 10 and 30 days that are 50% off that daily rate; something hospitals in Ottawa already seem to do.

“These passes will be transferrable between patients,” Ontario’s Health Minister Eric Hoskins said today at a news conference in Toronto, “transferrable to their caregivers and to other family members as well and would allow in and out privileges over a 24-hour period, good for one year from the date of purchase.”

Hoskins says hospitals in Ontario earn about $100 million dollars a year from parking and that the impact of these cuts will be a tiny portion of their budgets.

Here in Ottawa, parking revenue netted the Ottawa Hospital $12.4 million last year, the Queensway Carleton $2.4 million and CHEO and the Montfort about $2 million dollars.

“It's terrible, the price,” says a woman walking to her car in the parking lot, “I don't know what they do with that money?  Maybe they give it back to the hospital to buy equipment?”

The Ottawa Hospital says of the money it brought in, $4.5 million went towards research. The Montfort says the revenue allows the Hospital Foundation “to purchase medical equipment, to financial clinical research, to invest in infrastructure projects and to support day-to-day operations in order to better care for our patients,” according to Geneviève Picard, the director of Communications.

The hourly parking rates at hospitals in Ottawa are between $3.50 to $4.00 for half an hour.  The daily maximums top out at $14 and a weekly pass can cost up to $50. 

“I would appreciate more a reduction in the hourly rate,” says one woman heading into the Ottawa Hospital parking lot.”

For the time being, that suggestion doesn't seem to be on the Liberals’ agenda.

 Most of the hospital in big cities like Ottawa and Toronto charge more than $10 a day to park there.  Forty-five hospital, however, charge nothing.