Manitoba nurse petitions for free parking near hospitals

WINNIPEG — Health care workers are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.

Many are working 14 to 16 hours shifts, and coming in on days off to deal with the volume of patients, but a problem facing many front line workers isn’t the patients — it’s the parking.

Emily Bodrug, a registered nurse at Health Science Centre, wants to see an end to tickets and tows.

“You come out of the hospital, ready to go home after a long day, and you find a parking ticket on your car. It’s super discouraging,” said Bodrug.

She said with COVID-19 measures in place, it’s challenging to leave the hospital to fill a parking meter, and said parkades can also be costly.

“We’re paying the same prices as the public, and we are working sometimes five, six, seven times a week,” said Bodrug.

She decided to start an online petition, asking for parking to be free in parkades and on the street for all health care staff.

The petition already has close to 50,000 signatures — a mark she wasn’t expecting.

“Nurses from across the world are commenting on this petition.” said Bodrug. “Nurses that are in China, nurses who are in New York City, and they’re all saying they would love this parking idea as well.”

B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan already made parking free at hospitals and health facilities; not only for front line workers, but patients as well.

The City of Winnipeg told CTV News it was in conversations with Shared Health about parking, and those discussions are ongoing.

“Yes, there definitely is consideration and work being done to explore that,” said Lanette Siragusa of Shared Health. “We would like to make it as easy as possible for nurses.”

Siragusa said they’ll have an update on the situation soon.

Darlene Jackson, President of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said the union is behind Bodrug’s petition.

“I absolutely support the call for free parking,” said Jackson. “I think it’s a small, but really important gesture.”

Boddrug is hopeful her petition will be able to inspire action.

“I just think this would be an awesome initiative, and one less thing for all of us to worry about, and a way to flatten the curve,” said Bodrug.

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