Capital Health Region's health care workers will "Just Say No!"

HEU members in the Capital Health Region are hopping mad — and it has nothing to do with Victoria General Hospital's rabbit problem. The health region has decided to raise the price of staff parking at all the region's health care facilities by up to four times. For instance, the charge for HEU members and other staff at Victoria General is 38¢ per day. Now they will have to pay $1.75 per day. VGH vice chairperson Marty Terpenning and other local members are organizing a "Just Say No" campaign. On Nov. 3 the Capital Health Region is holding its next monthly meeting. "We want people from all the facilities in the region to come to the meeting with us and tell them just what we think of this," says Terpenning. Chuck Rowe, vice president of operations for the Capital Health Region, claims that the measure is being instituted, in part, to encourage staff members to use public transport. He says it will also help to defray the cost of the new $8 million parkade — a public-private partnership — at Royal Jubilee Hospital. If that is the case, workers all over the region will be paying for a parkade which they will not use — probably not even RJH workers. It will most likely be used by physicians and members of the public. But Chris Allnutt, HEU secretary-business manager, suspects that the real reason is the need to pay off a $5 million deficit. "That the workers in the region should pay off this debt is unacceptable," says Allnutt. "The parking facility is scheduled to open in October 2000. We calculate that the region will make enough between now and then — just on these increased parking rates — to pay off the deficit." "As for his call for hospital workers to use public transport, well, everyone knows that hospital workers often work at odd hours. It just isn't practical for many of them to use the bus," he said. "And the employer knows that. I donít believe they really want staff to take the bus — there's no money in it." In spite of Rowe's assertion that "we're all part of one big happy family here," the regionís health care employees are certainly not happy with the move to increase parking fees, and Terpenning says that the health region has closed the door to negotiations. Any HEU members who work in the Capital Health Region and are interested in "Just saying no" should call Marty Terpenning at 385-0669 or e-mail him at meterp@islandnet.com. The meeting will take place at Begbie Hall in the Woodward Room at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.