No hands in this pocket!

Added: Wed, 02/15/2017 - 8:53pm
Printer-friendly version

With the planned implementation date for paid parking at the Pontiac Community Hospital (PCH) quickly approaching, Pontiac residents are continuing various efforts to pressure the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) to change their decision; attending CISSSO board
meetings (see page 7 of the February 1 edition); reviewing the hospital's land transfer deed; consulting legal services, writing letters to elected officials and local newspapers, filing complaints, etc. 
The CISSSO claims the decision was made based on two premises: a desire to standardize operations and to follow Ministry guidelines that require parking lot maintenance to be self-funded; “health care money has to go towards providing health care services,” stressed Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin in an interview in early January.
Instead of attempting to persuade the CISSSO to have a change of heart, which to many seems very unlikely to happen - even the CISSSO, through their media relations agent, said the decision is not open for negotiation - maybe an alternate solution would be to destroy the foundation the decision was built upon. What about implementing community-funded parking instead?
It may not be the best option given that the PCH was always able to balance its budget and maintain the parking lot, but it may be one of our only options if we wish to maintain the status quo at the parking lot. If planned correctly, it could be a huge benefit for the region.
Firstly, an organization would need to be put in place to oversee, manage and coordinate the operation. This could be an entirely new organization or a branch of one already set in place such as the Hospital Foundation.
Throughout the year, the organization could work together with the Pontiac
community to raise the funds needed to ensure the daily operation of the PCH parking lot remains the same and that visitors, workers and patients can continue to come and go as they please without being required to go through a toll booth.
Each municipality – and even the MRC Pontiac - could possibly set aside a small amount in their annual budgets to contribute to the cause; donation boxes could be installed at the entrance to the PCH, CLSCs and seniors residences;
various fundraisers could be held throughout the year, etc. Although it's utopic, with about 20,000 residents in the MRC Pontiac and Municipality of Pontiac, if each person were to contribute a mere $3 per year ($1 less than the daily maximum to be charged at the PCH), it would amount to about $60,000. Is this an annual donation we could all commit to?
These would be funds the Pontiac would manage entirely on its own. Any profits would be directed towards projects that we ourselves identify as priorities
to improve and develop health care services right here at home. In addition, funds previously used for parking lot maintenance in the PCH's budget could be put to better use. Most of all, the Pontiac would recapture a small portion of the decision-making power it has lost and ensure no other hands would be digging
in its pocket!

Allyson Beauregaurd