• Hunter Cresswell

Hospital parking app called ‘exclusionary’

Wakefield residents complained ‘Blinkay’ app limited access to healthcare

By Stuart Benson

When Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais implemented its new payment system for parking at the Wakefield Hospital on June 20 – removing the cash payment option in favour of a smartphone app called Blinkay – the uproar from residents was immediate on social media groups like Wakefield Folks on Facebook.

The system of paying cash to park at the Wakefield Hospital was replaced by the smartphone application Blinkay on June 20 and some Wakefield folks aren't happy. Low Down file photo

Sandra Tucker, a resident of Wakefield who has regular appointments at the hospital, called the move a “completely exclusionary practice”.

“It basically excludes anyone who doesn't have a smart phone or data, and anyone who doesn't have a credit card,” Tucker said, adding she herself doesn’t have a credit card and that prepaid cards don’t work with the app. “What they're doing is limiting access to healthcare for people who don't have those things.”

Tucker said that she contacted La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux, who in turn contacted CISSSO to remedy the issue. Tucker also said that a number of other residents filed official complaints with CISSSO, some even considered contacting lawyers.

The implementation of the new cashless pay system was unrelated to COVID-19 precautions and had been underway before the pandemic, according to CISSSO.

On June 26, Lamoureux posted clarification he had received from CISSSO, stating that he had been told that the parking barriers would remain open and residents would be able to enter and exit the parking lot. A cash machine will also be installed at the hospital in the coming months.

“The only fines that a parking user could receive are related to the illegal use of parking for the disabled or for obstructing access to the fire department,” Lamoureux wrote. “These fines are issued by the police of the MRC des Collines, not by the CISSSO.”

He added that CISSSO would neither be towing vehicles nor issuing fines, however a parking attendant will periodically conduct inspection rounds and may take note of your license plate and issue a courtesy notice. The mayor also suggested to CISSSO they proceed with an expansion to the parking lot, since the municipality has no plans to allow on-street parking given the problems the area experienced with the issue in the past, such as parking for an extended period of time, or double parking.

In a statement to The Low Down, CISSSO further explained how residents can best access the hospital parking.

“If people are totally unable to [use the app], the call centre can take their license plate number before they leave the house so that surveillance can know they are authorized,” wrote Marie-Pier Després, media relations agent for CISSSO. “If not, they will get a notice and their licence plate will be registered in the system as well.”

Drivers will be contacted after their license plate is registered to suggest they make a donation to the Fondation Santé Gatineau, in cash, through donation boxes at the hospital.

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