Gary Hee has been campaigning for free parking at Langley Memorial and other hospitals since 2018. Lately, he’s been getting attention on social media because of the viral safety messages on his truck (Gary Hee/special to Langley Advance Times)

Gary Hee has been campaigning for free parking at Langley Memorial and other hospitals since 2018. Lately, he’s been getting attention on social media because of the viral safety messages on his truck (Gary Hee/special to Langley Advance Times)

Free hospital parking announcement didn’t go far enough, critic says

Temporary lifting of fees during COVID-19 outbreak should be permanent according to Gary Hee

A decision to temporarily eliminate pay parking at B.C. hospitals and provincially-owned health care facilities didn’t go far enough to suit Gary Hee, organizer of a petition to eliminate fees at the Langley Memorial Hospital (LMH) ER.

“They should make it permanent,” Hee told the Langley Advance Times.

Hee was commenting on the Monday, March 30th announcement by provincial health minister Adrian Dix, who said pay parking would be suspended as of April 1st at hospitals and health care facilities in order to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Dix said the change would allow people “to avoid touching screens and buttons at payment kiosks that may have been touched by someone previously, and also supports physical distancing measures that have been mandated by our provincial health officer.”

A statement by the Fraser Health Authority, which includes LMH, said the general public, staff and medical staff are all covered by the announcement.

On the same day, an online petition on Change.org, “COVID-19: Allow free hospital parking for BC’s health care workers” had collected more than 10,000 signatures.

It was launched in response to complaints that nurses and doctors working extra-long shifts were getting tickets for expired parking passes.

“British Columbia’s healthcare workers are working harder than ever to keep the people of BC safe during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” organizer Rimona Lee said.

“Let’s lessen the burden on our frontline workers.”

One of the people who signed the online petition was Hee, who called ticketing medical staff for parking at the hospitals where they work “outrageous.”

Hee, a Cloverdale resident, launched his petition in April of 2019, asking LMH and both Langley City and Township “to implement ways and means to collaborate to remove parking fees placed upon us or our vehicles while attending the hospital emergency department premises for medical reasons during and up to a four hour period.”

He collected more than 4,000 signatures on paper.

But when he presented his petition to the Fraser Health Authority, Hee was told the contract with Imperial Parking could not be changed.

Hee then directed the petition to Parliament to have it ban ER parking fees and fines by adding a bylaw to the Canada Health Act.

It was rejected over what Hee calls “formatting” issues in the document that he is planning to fix and resubmit once the COVID-19 outbreak is over.

READ MORE: Campaign against hospital parking fees is gathering momentum: organizer

READ MORE: More than 4,200 names on Cloverdale man’s petition to end hospital parking fees

BC Nurses’ Union president Christine Sorensen welcomed the parking decision, saying the BCNU “is pleased to hear the government is listening to nurses and will wave parking fees at all health authority-owned health facilities in BC for not only all health care workers, but patients and visitors, too.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge our health care system has ever seen, which is why it is critical that the government stands with our nurses in every way it can,” the Sorensen statement said.

“This means ensuring every nurse has access to personal protective equipment and N95 masks, that child-care options are there for families, clean scrubs are available, and free parking is implemented at all hospitals so that a nurse or health care worker doesn’t have to worry about facing a stiff parking fine after a 14-hour shift.”

In a related development, a nurse created a petition to get the City of Vancouver to suspend parking metre fines for medical staff.

A statement by the nurse, posted on the Change.org petition, “Free Parking in Vancouver for all Healthcare workers during COVID-19,” said to avoid exposure on public transit, “I have been driving my car into work and paying for parking. With an increase in staff shortages, sometimes our shifts get extended and we end up working 16 hours. The last thing we are thinking when we take those extra hours is extending the parking meter.”

As of Monday, more than 12,000 had signed.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusLangleyLangley Memorial Hospital

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A lawsuit over three stormwater floods of a building over the past year has been launched against Langley City. (Langley Advance Times file)
Flooded apartment building sparks lawsuit against Langley City

A downtown landlord claims a lack of storm sewer upgrades is negligence

Abbotsford’s Willow Video location will be closing at the end of the month. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford’s Willow Video closing

Video game, movie retailer closing up shop after more than 20 years

Dead long-eared myotis bat found outside a home. (Danielle Dagenais/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Program asks Aldergrove residents to report bat sightings

Researchers are looking to see if spread of White-nose Syndrome in Washington has entered B.C.

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

Most Read