Nick­eled and dimed

Lib­eral MLA Bush Dumville and PC MLA James Ayl­ward speak out against park­ing fee at Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY DAVE STEWART dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca

Peo­ple who park at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in Char­lot­te­town may get another half hour for free.

Right now, park­ing is free for any­one who ex­its the park­ing lot within 30 min­utes of go­ing in.

Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie promised Tues­day to take a look at how much it would cost - or how much rev­enue would be lost - if that 30 min­utes was ex­tended to a full hour.

Based on the past fis­cal year, gov­ern­ment takes in about $340,000 a year from park­ing at the province’s largest re­fer­ral hos­pi­tal.

But at least some mem­bers of the gov­ern­ing and Op­po­si­tion par­ties are united in their dis­plea­sure with the fact that there is a charge for park­ing at all.

Fol­low­ing ques­tion pe­riod in the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture on Tues­day, Lib­eral MLA Bush Dumville was very vo­cal in his sup­port of Op­po­si­tion MLA James Ayl­ward’s con­cerns over the fee to park at the QEH.

Later, Dumville told The Guardian that he’s been voic­ing his op­po­si­tion to the park­ing fee since he was first elected in 2007.

“The way I look at it, the he­roes of our so­ci­ety are the ones who take time to go visit peo­ple (in hos­pi­tals),’’ Dumville said, giv­ing Ayl­ward credit for con­tin­u­ing to speak out on the is­sue for the past few years.

“It’s pe­nal­iz­ing those that are go­ing to visit loved ones. My sug­ges­tion in (the leg­is­la­ture) was that maybe a half hour was too short. Maybe we could look at an hour.’’

Dumville said it doesn’t make sense that the province has two main re­fer­ral hos­pi­tals yet only charges to park at one of them. There is no cost to park at the Prince County Hos­pi­tal in Summerside.

“I’m won­der­ing if there could be a bet­ter bal­ance.’’

Dumville also found it sur­pris­ing when told that the fee for park­ing hauls in $340,000. He thought it was more.

Ayl­ward said it’s an is­sue he hears about at the door all the time.

“It’s the se­niors utiliz­ing the main re­fer­ral hos­pi­tals most fre­quently,’’ Ayl­ward said. “Ei­ther they’re go­ing in for pro­ce­dures them­selves or they’re go­ing to visit a loved one. They are sim­ply feel­ing nick­eled and dimed over and over again by hav­ing to pay for park­ing.’’

Ayl­ward said the fee for park­ing may not seem like much to some peo­ple but it adds up for any­one who’s there fre­quently.

He added vis­it­ing the hos­pi­tal can be an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult time for many emo­tion­ally and the last thing they need is the added worry about hav­ing enough change in their pock­ets

“It’s es­sen­tially an in­sult.’’

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

House Op­po­si­tion Leader Steven My­ers, left, chats with West Roy­alty-Spring­vale MLA Bush Dumville be­fore pro­ceed­ings at the Prince Ed­ward Is­land leg­is­la­ture Tues­day. Dumville spoke about his con­cerns over the park­ing fee at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal. Dumville wants gov­ern­ment to look at giv­ing peo­ple up to an hour of free park­ing. Cur­rently, the park­ing fee is waived for peo­ple there less than 30 min­utes.

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