In the last issue of BCMJ, Pat Goble, president of the Surrey Access for All Committee, wrote a plea to physicians to "limit certifying the number of patients who request disabled parking placards to those who genuinely need them." I take exception to two points made in this commentary.
Firstly, Goble asserts that the number of permits issued seems to be growing exponentially and labels this as "excessive." Is it not possible that the increased availability and visibility of handicapped parking spaces in the last 20 years has resulted in more disabled members of the community seeking legitimate permission to use them? Perhaps the handicapped parking program is a victim of its own success.
Secondly, and most disturbing, Goble states there is "ample evidence" that many people who obtain parking permits do not require them. Referring to a 1997 government-sponsored report, Goble states that "only 30% of those who received a disabled parking permit were reported as having a physical disability." I obtained a copy of the report and discovered that it actually gives the results of a survey of BC municipalities. Recipients of parking permits were not surveyed. It indicates that 30% of BC municipalities issue permits to people with physical disabilities. Goble has grossly misinterpreted these results.
Goble’s comments are misinformed, unfair, and antagonistic. The sole criterion on the application for handicapped parking permits is that patients be unable to walk 100 metres. I usually take the word of the patient on this. If Goble has a better suggestion on how we can ensure that all applicants "genuinely need" these permits, I would like to hear it.
—Eugene Leduc, MD
1. Goble P. Limit Disabled Parking Permits. BCMJ 43(1):33.
2. Parking Subcommittee Under the Memorandum of Understanding on Accessibility. Resolving the Parking Issue: Recommendations for a more co-ordinated approach. Report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Minister of Transportation and Highways and the Union of BC Municipalities, August 1997.
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