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Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins scrums with journalists in Toronto on March 5, 2015.Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

Ontario hospitals that charge more than $10 a day for parking have been ordered to immediately freeze rates, and to start offering multi-day discount passes by Oct. 1.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins says the hospitals will have to offer five-, 10- and 30-day passes that discount parking rates by 50 per cent to ease the financial burden on patients and their visitors.

Hoskins says patients get better faster when surrounded by their loved ones, and he doesn't think parking fees should be a barrier for families who have to make frequent visits to a hospital.

The Ontario Hospital Association doesn't like the idea, and says the Liberal government not only froze hospital budgets for the past four years, it also encouraged them to find new sources of revenue.

The OHA says the decision to cut their revenues by capping and discounting parking fees "could not come at a worse time."

Hoskins says parking generates about $100 million a year for Ontario hospitals, which he admits will be reduced because of the discounts, but insists it's only a "tiny, tiny" fraction of their budgets.

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