PSWs pay 'over and above' to work in downtown Sudbury

Personal support worker Victoria Campbell estimates she spends $270 out of her own pocket each month feeding parking meters in downtown Sudbury, Ont., to reach all her clients.

'We just want to park for 15, 20 minutes ... run in ... See our people and come out'

Many parking meters in downtown Sudbury, Ont., do not print receipts. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Personal support worker Victoria Campbell estimates she spends $270 out of her own pocket each month feeding parking meters in downtown Sudbury, Ont., to reach all of her clients.

"We're currently paying over and above whatever we can just to do our job," Campbell said.

"We are providing a service and this needs to be addressed."

Many of the machines do not print receipts, which is why she is not reimbursed by her employer.

Campbell and her colleague Tracy Baker are calling on the city to revamp the meters so they offer proof of payment. 

"We are a fair bit behind technology-wise in how you park," said Jeff MacIntyre, the chair of Downtown Sudbury business improvement association.

"We have to work on the options better."

Parking in one spot all day 'not a luxury'

MacIntyre suggests the city could implement consistent paying methods at meters and offer incentives for people to park in low-usage lots. Those are lots that are typically further away from the downtown core.

As for Campbell and Baker's situation, he recommends buying a monthly parking pass to save money. 

"Outside of that, it's difficult right now," MacIntyre said.

"You can't get proof of payment from a meter and you can't pay with a credit card to have a statement to back up your claim."
Personal support workers in Sudbury, Ont., said they have trouble finding parking downtown to help their clients. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

The issue is, Campbell and Baker say, they have too many clients to leave their car in one spot all day.

"We don't have travel time," Baker said.

"With our schedules, it's not a luxury to just [say], 'oh yea, park two blocks over and just walk.' We just don't have the time for that."

'We're not abusing the system'

As a result, Campbell and Baker said they have received a few parking tickets because they either could not find a proper parking spot or they could not step away from their clients.

The fines cost $25, which is more than their hourly wage of $18. 

"If I have to call a paramedic, I can't just stop and say wait a minute I've got to put more money in the meter," Baker said.

"We're not abusing the system. We just want to park for 15, 20 minutes. Run in. See our people and come out and not have a ticket. Or if we do have a ticket, can we at least come to the city and say, 'no I was working'."

The city did not offer any one to be interviewed for this story, but communication officer Shannon Dowling said staff will present council with different technology options for parking meters in the new year.

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.