The parkade at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary — how’s that for a newsy shot! (Photo: Alberta Health Services).

It was a big deal back in April when the government of Alberta suspended hospital parking fees for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro was Johnny on the Spot, telling media reporters that “health-care workers and the general public should not have to worry about paying for parking in the midst of responding to COVID-19.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Government of Alberta).

Right on, we all said, or at least most of us did. After all, nothing raises the blood pressure of hospital patients, their families and friends, and health care employees like high parking fees and aggressive parking enforcement anywhere near most Alberta hospitals.

Political nerds may think it’s a sidebar, but parking is probably the public’s No. 1 gripe about health care, United Conservative Party propaganda notwithstanding.

So, Mr. Shandro pledged at the time, “our government will provide whatever resources are needed to protect Albertans during the COVID-19 emergency.”

He did, however, want you to know that this was going to cost an estimated $7.6 million per month in lost parking “fees,” while scribblers dutifully scribbled that the government’s kindness would reduce the chances of getting infected from a germy parking lot pay machine touched by scores of unwashed fingers.

Well, the COVID-19 emergency may be continuing, but that was then and this is now.

Parking fees will be reinstated at the start of September, just in time for the wave of back-to-school COVID-19 cases.

This time, for some reason, apparently Mr. Shandro didn’t want to be around to comment on the restoration of the fees that drive Albertans nuts.

So it was left up to Alberta Health Services to give us the bad news.

“Parking fees help AHS control the flow of traffic and ensure appropriate parking spaces are available for staff and visitors, keeping our facilities accessible as traffic again increases,” the always positive AHS PR staff assured Albertans.

So the COVID-19 emergency may not be over, but the hospital parking fee holiday is.

It’s the relaunch, don’t ya know? Now shut up and get your wallets out.

Join the Conversation


  1. Parking at hospitals & health centres is indeed a bugbear, and not just in the big cities. My clients complain vociferously about not just the cost but the lack of parking, in a city where transit is laughable, and not available to those who live outside the city, and driving to appointments is just about the only viable option for most.

    The hospital where I see most of my clients is located on an 8-acre site in the downtown core with no ability to spend available parking space due to surrounding residential neighbourhoods. Residents of those neighbourhoods have also lobbied City Council over the years to restrict parking on-street parking for a 2-block radius around the hospital site to those holding valid permits issued by the City, i.e. only to residents themselves. This was because of overflow parking by hospital staff & users. There was a proposal some years ago to build a multi-level parking structure on the hospital site in a location where there is currently only a ground-level lot, but that was kiboshed when the Stelmach government first announced a new hospital would be built here instead. That announcement was, unfortunately, well over 10 years ago, and the project has been delayed and delayed again, and has just now been completed (in a different location than the initial announcement) — & is scheduled to open after a pandemic-prolonged commissioning process sometime next year, with a vastly-larger 1,300-space 5-level parking structure already in place. So parking woes at the current site should ease next year after most inpatient care decants off to the new site — fingers crossed.

    As for costs, prior to the creation of AHS, our local hospital was, for a long time, the only one in our health region that charged the public for parking; it actually had a staffed parking booth & human attendant to manage payments. Then the Regional Health Authority Board — as it then was — decided this was an inequity with its smaller, rural sites & abolished parking charges for public parking (staff too, I think, but I’m not as sure my memory on this is as accurate so don’t quote me on that). They even tore down the parking attendant booth.

    Then AHS came along, and early on reinstated paid public parking. They first installed these solar-powered pay & display machines which were a nightmare to use, and were a particular burden on the frail & less mobile — who had to hobble to the machine, struggle with its unfriendly user interface to pay for a ticket, & hobble back to their vehicle to put the ticket on the dash before this could actually go into the hospital for their appointment or to visit the loved one they came to see. Those older machines were also a special challenge for less sophisticated rural residents coming to the hospital who couldn’t figure the damned things out: if I had a nickel for very person I saw standing befuddled before one of those things, I could retire wealthy. Later they took those machines out & replaced them with newer, “enter your licence plate here” machines that are slightly easier to use, but at least the user doesn’t have to cart their ticket back to their vehicle. But people still have to have a crystal ball on how long their appointment is going to take, and we all know how much of a crapshoot that can be in health care.

  2. It’s amazing how easy it is to fool Albertans . While Kenney and Tyler try to blame our doctors for the high cost of health care , they promise to make the costs worse for taxpayers with privatization. How stupid do they think we are?
    While they slash taxes for their rich friends now they want to give their rich friends first priority to our health care system and create a nightmare for the rest of us, as doctors pointed it out when Klein tried to do it.
    Trever Tombe of the University of Calgary has pointed out that Albertans have been cheated out of $433 billion thanks to the Klein, Stelmach and Redford governments, looking after their rich friends. While those of us who knew it was happening got called all sorts of names by our fellow seniors who didn’t want to hear the truth, they can’t handle it, they aren’t man enough.
    The American Oilman ,that I was involved with , called Albertans the dumbest people on the planet for letting Klein give away Our oil royalties the way he was, and Tombe has proven it.

    1. Alan: How come none of the major newspapers in Alberta have brought up this $433 billion loss, by the Alberta PCs? I think it might be too much of an embarrassment for them to know that hat the Conservatives were duping Alberta for so long. Ralph Klein is still a saint in the eyes of many Albertans, but his destructive legacy still lingers to this day. All these newspapers do is follow along to the Conservative and UCP beat. The UCP are acting just like Ralph Klein was. They want more privatization, and their wealthy friends taken care of.

  3. The UCP shows no limits to how they can cause hardship for Albertans. If you are not a rich corporate CEO, the UCP doesn’t care about you. The UCP has to come up with any excuse they can to make people pay for their foolhardy fiscal ways. I’m glad you bring these important issues to light.

  4. There won’t really be an increase in “cases” when kids go back to school. There will likely be an increase in positive tests, but not actual cases of sick children. Although plenty of Branch Covidian parents will apparently be keeping their children at home despite the mandatory wearing of masks that cannot possibly prevent transmission of Covid. Of course, school transmission of Covid was not observed in Sweden to any significantly harmful degree. Regardless, do not stop being afraid of the virus that has hospitalized 16% of the number of people who were admitted for influenza in 2017-18. The excess mortality from the panic is starting to be tallied, and we can’t very well admit it was all over nothing.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.