I am a Country mouse. I love the rural lifestyle: the plentiful space, the low expenses, the juicy gossip. I, like other Country mice, embrace this lifestyle, giving-up the luxuries of big city living: the plentiful internet connectivity, expensive nights on the town and the Jamba Juice.

We can bike from Mount Martin Ski Hill to the Deep River Hospital in under 15 minutes, and walk the same in under an hour. Everything is accessible by the heel-toe express. We don’t have the luxury of public transportation. If our health, disability or injuries hinder our mobility, we can drive (or have someone else drive us) and park nearby.

Lucky for us Country mice, parking everywhere in Deep River is free.

In Deep River, we also enjoy high-quality free public healthcare. Like many public services, the Deep River and District Hospital struggles for cash. In November 2017, the hospital is monetizing its parking lot. The hospital would be the ONLY place in Deep River where you need to pay to park. The logic is confused.

Going to the bar? Free parking while you drink. Collapsed lung? Five dollars, please.

This is a City Mouse idea through and through.

Big City Mice are accustomed to paying for parking. Heck, they pay for everything else. Cities are different than the country. Crowded cities have paid parking everywhere. Parking is at a premium. The wealthy tend to pay parking because the wealthy have private transportation. Public transportation is available for those who are sick and injured. Our town takes the Country mouse approach: everywhere you park in Deep River is free, especially for those who need vehicles to access public services.

The hospital’s fundraising decision hopes to find money between the yellow lines of the hospital parking lot. This seems trivial at first glance. It isn’t. Putting a ‘tax’ on parking means putting a ‘tax’ on health care.

Free public access to health care is a pillar of Canadianism. We can go to the doctor’s and find out early that our freckle is not just a freckle. Kids can get the urgent care they need without bankrupting their families. From Far and Wide, Oh Canada, We’re Hospitalized for Free!

The health care parking ‘tax’ hits the Deep Riverites who are too sick or injured to walk hardest. It hits them at the hospital: the very place you need to go when you are sick or injured. The most vulnerable in our community, who must drive or have someone else drive them to the hospital, foot the extra cost of the hospital. The rest of us skip-out on the bill, but keep the comfort of having a hospital in an otherwise rural and secluded area.

Hospital funding is a political matter. If we are deficient in our ability to provide adequate healthcare, we need to look to our politicians, not our patients. The current Liberal government under Wynne has provided minimal increases to hospital budgets. Big money is found in big pockets: our elected government. If we are unhappy with the allocation of budgetary funds, we need to reconsider our election choices and, if necessary, lobby for change.

Until big change happens for the hospital, we need to resist the urge to make band-aid City Mouse solutions on the financial backs of the most vulnerable in our area. A wonderful part of Country mouse living is the small community living. We support each other, and we protect our sick, disabled and injured. Free health care in Deep River should mean just that. We shelter our sick and injured, we do not profit off of their backs.


Leave a Reply