Manitoba

Cancer patient fed up with high parking fees at Health Sciences Centre

A man with cancer destroyed a parking meter in front of a Winnipeg treatment clinic on Monday, in what he says is a stand against charging sick people high rates for parking.

Collin Kennedy filled city meter with spray foam in protest of high fees for sick people

Cancer patient fed up with high parking fees at Health Sciences Centre

6 years ago
Duration 1:04
Collin Kennedy has had multiple myeloma, a form of leukemia, since 1999 and has had all of his treatment at CancerCare Manitoba. He said increased parking rates around the building where he gets his treatment have become unaffordable.

A man with cancer destroyed a parking meter in front of a Winnipeg treatment clinic on Monday, in what he says is a stand against charging sick people high rates for parking.

Collin Kennedy has had multiple myeloma, a form of leukemia, since 1999 and has had all of his treatment at CancerCare Manitoba.

"I've been in a degenerative state since the disease. I used to be about five-foot-10, I'm now five-foot-two from a collapsed spine and collapsed chest," said Kennedy. "It's a miracle I can still stand."

He's a single father on social assistance who is primarily bed bound.

He said increased parking rates around the building where he gets his treatment have become unaffordable. 

"Since I've been coming here, especially since the new building is in place, they put parking meters along the way. At first I didn't think anything of it because everyone pays for their parking wherever they go, and then this year, they jacked up the price — really jacked up the price," said Kennedy.

City officials say the last time meter prices were increased was 2008.

Since July, Kennedy estimates plugging meters at the CancerCare treatment centre has cost him $600.

"Sometimes when there's no parking, we end up having to go to the parkade at Manitoba Clinic, and it's even more expensive," he said. "We're in front of a place of healing, not a place of extortion."

On Monday, Kennedy used spray foam to fill a city-operated parking meter near the clinic, something he said he plans to continue to do and post on Facebook until changes are made.

Cancer patient fills parking meter outside hospital with spray foam

6 years ago
Duration 0:36
Collin Kennedy used spray foam to disable a parking meter near the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg where he gets his treatment. He says the fees have increased and are a tax on the sick.

"You should be able to come here, park, get your treatment, however long that treatment takes," he said. "This is a medical facility where people are not going for entertainment. They're not going for productivity and commerce. We're here because of life and death."

Kennedy said he spoke to people who hand out tickets in the area, reminding them that expired meters could be due to people receiving chemo inside.

He added it's both City of Winnipeg meters and Impark operated parkades and lots that are charging patients.

"We talk to the people who give the tickets and they're very non-communicative, they see it as a threat to their jobs," he said.

He also said patients have had to run out in the middle of treatment, or ask a nurse or aide to run out to plug the meters.

"People who come for treatment or to get their medications to live, to survive, should not have that barrier put between them and that treatment," he said. "It's a financial drain on the people who need the money most."

Patient complaints about parking are common, doctor says

Piotr Czaykowski, the chief medical officer at CancerCare Manitoba, said Kennedy's complaints are common.

"We've definitely had patients raise concerns about the costs of parking and the difficulty accessing parking around our two major sites -- both at the Health Sciences campus and the St. Boniface campus. It's something we're well aware of," said Czaykowski. "Cancer Care doesn't control any of the parking around our sites. We don't have parking spots of our own or any discussions about the costs of parking. We do try to help patients as much as we can by telling them about where parking is available."

Czaykowski said staff are aware the current parking situation causes patients stress.

"They're uneasy that their parking is going to expire before their appointment does, or they're parked at a meter. We do hear those concerns fairly often," said Czaykowski.

He noted CancerCare doesn't get any revenue from city meters or from Impark lots nearby.

"I think in an ideal world we'd have our own parking. Would we be able to provide it for free? That's not something that I can comment on. I haven't seen a business case for that," he said. "I agree in an ideal world patients would not be saddled with this kind of a cost."

He said if the hospital starts subsidizing parking, it would come at the cost of other expenses.

Czaykowksi said the conversations are difficult because all sorts of patients are dealing with the issue.

"What about patients with other chronic illnesses that require constant attention, for example, patients who are attending for dialysis? How do we decide as a system whether one group of patients should bear cost but another doesn't?" he said.

In other jurisdictions, patients have called on municipalities to remove parking meters around health facilities.

In B.C., some facilities have special parking permits that are awarded based on financial hardship on a case-by-case basis. Meanwhile, the Canadian Medical Association Journal has called for an end to parking fees.

When asked about Kennedy's concerns and if it would consider removing parking meters for patients around the hospital, City of Winnipeg officials said the current meters have a time limit that is "double that of other high demand areas in the city in recognition of the additional time often required when visiting the HSC campus."

Officials added, "Time-based parking helps manage turn over at on-street parking spaces by preventing long term parking, freeing up more spaces throughout the day for visitors and patients."

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