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.”
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.