“Pontiac Voice” fights back against paid parking at Community Hospital

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Allyson Beauregard

PONTIAC & MRC
PONTIAC – Following the announcement at the end of December of paid
parking starting March 2017 at the Pontiac Community Hospital (PCH), a group of Pontiac residents have banded together to create a citizen’s committee called “Pontiac Voice”. 

Allyson Beauregard

PONTIAC & MRC
PONTIAC – Following the announcement at the end of December of paid
parking starting March 2017 at the Pontiac Community Hospital (PCH), a group of Pontiac residents have banded together to create a citizen’s committee called “Pontiac Voice”. 
“That was the last straw. The people of the Pontiac realized major changes are in the works for the Pontiac’s health services. We need a voice to allow Pontiac citizens to stand up as a community and claim our rights. Enough is enough! The Pontiac doesn’t have any other options to access the hospital, so people will be forced to pay to go to work or to access health care.” said member Joe Geremian.
Pontiac Voice has over 2,500 social media followers who have expressed discontent with the direction the Pontiac’s health care system is taking. An acting committee of six people will represent the group in front of authorities and the media and will organize public meetings, collective actions, etc.
“The discontent is the result of many CISSSO decisions: loss of autonomy and services, transfer of administrators to the city, a very quiet relocation of residents of the Pavillon du Parc in Shawville, Pontiac job postings transferred to Gatineau, members of the CISSSO Board of Directors nominated by the government, and more.
Pontiac residents feel disempowered toward their health services and interviews given to local media by MNA André Fortin have done little to restore confidence,” said Josey Bouchard, official spokesperson for the committee.
The committee has already met with Fortin to express their concerns and discontent and has officially requested a public meeting be held with the CISSSO Board of Directors and CEO Jean Hébert. An answer is expected within the coming days.
A view from the trenches
The CISSS Pontiac workers’ union has denounced the decision to impose paid parking at the PCH and formally support the Pontiac Voice group. According to Michel Quijada, CSN Regional President, the decision demonstrates the insensitivity of the CISSSO management towards a population that is already suffering.
Paid parking supported by MNA
According to Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin, he supports the decision to implement paid parking at the PCH because he believes “health care money has to go towards providing health care services”. However, he said there were three conditions he “spoke out about” when the issue was first discussed: that rural areas not be treated the same as urban regions in terms of pricing for parking; volunteers, repeat patients, visitors to long-term residents, and those who can’t afford to pay (ie: seniors on fixed income) be given special passes, either for free or half price; and the money collected in the Pontiac remains here.
Contrary to an earlier statement from the CISSSO media relations department where they stated the profits from the parking fees would be applied to the CISSSO’s deficit as a whole, Fortin said he received confirmation from the CISSSO that profits will remain in the Pontiac.
“The CISSSO has agreed they will have separate accounting for every territory, therefore the money collected in the Pontiac will first be used for maintenance and plowing of the parking lots (including CLSCs) and the surplus will be used to fund targeted, investment projects in the Pontiac,” he explained, noting the project selection will likely be a joint effort between the CISSSO and the PCH Foundation.
When asked whether the decision to implement paid parking at the PCH can be reversed, Fortin said he could not speak for the CISSSO, claiming that while the Health Minister creates the broad guidelines to be followed – like parking maintenance cannot be paid for using health funds – the decision to implement parking fees at institutions is solely made by the CISSSO.
According to Genevieve Côté, CISSSO Media Relations Agent, the decision to implement the paid parking is final and not open for negotiation.
In conclusion, Fortin said he is committed to working with the Pontiac Voice group, making their points known to the CISSSO, and reviewing the original land transfer for the PCH to verify if there are provisions in it to prevent the application of paid parking. “The CISSSO is currently doing this research as well,” he concluded.
Let your voice be heard
Those interested in joining the Pontiac Voice acting committee can contact Bouchard at 819-743-4500. “We are acting quickly and will [pursue] collective actions until we stop [paid parking] from happening,” concluded Geremian.