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‘Paying to work’: health workers clap back against staff parking cost increases

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A new petition is calling for all of Alberta’s health and hospital workers to be exempt from parking payment rules inside health facilities. 

It comes after a recent staff parking cost increase has upset hundreds of Alberta Health Services (AHS) employees. 

“Now we’re paying $15 a day just to work, which is kind of ridiculous to me,” petition creator Nicola Mulder said. “And a lot of us here are not happy with that.”

Mulder works as a nurse at Foothills Medical Centre. 

She says many of her coworkers are upset about the bump, which resulted in an increase of about 3.3 per cent. 

They believe they shouldn’t have to pay anything for parking as they work to save lives. 

And for many just like Mulder, transportation alternatives like transit aren’t always an option with unusual shift hours.

“Most of us nurses or other workers, we have to pull 16 hour shifts or get mandated to stay, and then we completely forget about parking,” she told CTV News. “So we end up getting a ticket on top of paying $15, which isn’t great.”

Mulder believes patients shouldn’t be forced to pay, either. Her union VP agrees. 

“Health care shouldn’t be about making money off your clients or your staff,” AUPE’s Bonnie Gostola said. “This is not how we should be doing business.”

BUSINESS DECISION: AHS

But the decision, according to the Health Minister, is entirely rooted in business. 

“Inflation is hitting Alberta Health Services as well in maintaining those parkades and in making sure they’re able to build new ones as the need arises,” Adriana Lagrange said. 

An internal staff memos adds that the “increases are necessary to ensure the safety and long-term sustainability of AHS parking,” which is required to be financially self-sustaining. 

But Mulder argues at $15 a vehicle, the frequently-full lots are pulling in enough money as is. 

She calls it a cash grab — as does her union, which says the issue could come up in the next round of contract bargaining. 

But changes without threats don’t seem likely. In fact, AHS has pledged to review parking rates annually to ensure “they are aligned with local markets.” 

It says adjustments will be made “as needed.”

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