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Parking fines cause 'financial hardship' for health-care workers in Burnaby

Community health-care workers are petitioning Burnaby council for parking passes to avoid getting ticketed when they're on work calls.
Parking ticket.

Community health-care workers are having a tough time finding parking in Burnaby, leading to workers paying out-of-pocket expenses for parking fines and decreasing the time they have for service.

Workers from the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) have now petitioned Burnaby council to get parking passes for community health workers.

Florentina Kelly, first vice-chairperson of Local 803 community health services for the BCGEU, submitted the petition with 150 signatures.

The petitioners want to allow the health-care workers to park in residential areas that have designated parking permits. Most of their clients’ homes do not have designated parking for health workers, according to the petition.

Clients that live in highrise buildings, such as in Metrotown, Lougheed or Brentwood, do not have visitor parking, the petition says, while much of Burnaby has metered parking with limited time allowed.

The health workers use clients’ time driving around the neighbourhood looking for parking to avoid getting parking tickets, according to the petition.

When the workers get parking tickets, “it is a financial hardship for them,” states the petition.

The petitioners requested parking passes for Burnaby, so the city’s parking enforcement staff don’t issue tickets to the on-shift workers.

Coun. Maita Santiago said the petition comes from the workers’ concern for their clients who need care, adding the financial cost can be steep.

“When they do get a ticket, you know, then the fine is so high that sometimes it negates whatever income that worker might have earned from that visit.”

But some city councillors expressed concerns.

Coun. Pietro Calendino said the problem isn’t council’s jurisdiction, rather, he called it “a health issue.”

He said the union should bring the issue up in bargaining with the ministry.

“The ministry needs to be prepared to provide sufficient time for the health care workers,” he said.

Coun. Sav Dhaliwal agreed and said the issue can’t be unique to Burnaby, suggesting other urban areas might have similar problems. He asked staff to consider how and if Vancouver deals with any similar issues.

Dhaliwal expressed concern it could lead to the province “downloading” more costs to the city.

He said the province should be more aware of the pressures their workers face.

“I don’t see how they dare to send their workers, to say, ‘No, you’re on your own, and deliver services even when there’s no parking available,’” he said.

Coun. Richard Lee suggested a compromise, such as issuing permits with a fee charged to the health authority.

Council unanimously referred the petition to staff to investigate whether the request is possible. Staff will report back to council.