Parking rises at Calgary hospitals

By Natalie Sit

An increase in parking fees at Foothills Hospital is worrying some University of Calgary Alberta Union of Public Employees members.

Starting August 2003, parking fees at all Calgary hospitals will rise from $45 plus GST to $71 plus GST per month. Starting April 2004, prices will rise again to $95 plus GST monthly. Overall, people will have to pay $1.78 more per day, including GST.

AUPE Local 52 Chair Dan Tilleman sees this as a sign of underfunding by the provincial government.

"It’s worth fighting for. If you were charged a $1.78 more for your telephone bill, you’d be upset," said Tilleman. "They’re downloading their costs onto the backs of those who provide services."

Calgary Health Region Vice-President Communications Don Campbell recognizes employees do not want to pay more for parking but cites pressure on the hospital from Calgary’s growth rate.

"This is the first increase since October 1999," said Campbell. "There is pressure in the hospital site to add more parking facilities. We get $1.8 billion for patient care. We can’t be taking money from patient care to build parking."

The CHR is looking into private partnerships to finance new parkades. The CHR would own the parkade but look to the partnership for funding and construction. This development worries Tilleman.

"They’re going down the road to P3s [Public Private Partnerships]. They’re guaranteeing a profit for a private sector group," said Tilleman.

The price increase will generate $2.5 to $2.7 million for the CHR.

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