Maskless Toronto parking officer accused of harassing elderly woman at vaccine clinic
A happy celebration turned to disappointment, according to one Toronto man, after a parking enforcement officer hassled him while he was trying pick up his 92-year-old mother from a vaccination clinic.
Michael Prokaziuk told blogTO the incident started on March 18 after he took his mother to the vaccination clinic at the MaRS building on College Street at University Avenue. The clinic is vaccinating people 80 years old and over.
Prokaziuk said his wife had arrived to pick up his mother when a parking enforcement officer tried to give her a ticket.
Man complains after a maskless Toronto parking enforcement officer doesn’t allow driver to stop and pick up his elderly mother after getting vaccine - 📹 Michael Prokaziuk #Toronto pic.twitter.com/oFAff6yJsI— blogTO (@blogTO) March 19, 2021
"I had called my wife to pick us up, so my mother would not have to walk too far as she has mobility issues and requires assistance," he said. "My wife was not waiting or idling outside for us."
The officer told him they were in a bike lane but Prokaziuk said a sign indicated that the bike lane was closed.
"There was no other place to stop to let my mother in and out of the car that was close enough for her to the front door," he said.
@ParkingTPS @TorontoPolice @TOPublicHealth @fordnation @JohnTory @jamesramertps @CPHO_Canada How are people, especially seniors & the vulnerable expected to receive their covid vaccines when Parking is harassing them?— 🎭 Sändra Cöle 🎭 (@Sandra_Cole44) March 19, 2021
But the officer insisted they move on.
"The officer said that we were in a bike lane and said if my mom got into the car he would issue us a ticket immediately," Prokaziuk said. "The officer clearly saw that my mom had a walker and was being helped into a car that just pulled over."
There appeared to be no designated space to pick up and drop off elderly people for the clinic.
In response to the complaint, a spokesperson for Toronto Parking Enforcement, Connie Osborne, said the officer was following the rules.
"While we appreciate every situation is different, on this occasion the vehicle was parked in a bicycle lane where there are no exemptions," Osborne told blogTO. "The parking enforcement officer used his discretion and did not ticket the driver but kindly asked them to move."
He is sitting in the bike lane, of course he is going to bug him. That's his job. Why would he have his mask on when he's so far away and by himself?— Ben Ferguson (@torontoben) March 19, 2021
Prokaziuk said his wife had seen cars continuously dropping off people to get their vaccine shots at this location without any incident.
"This would have been a very quick pick up and as there was a service truck ahead of us we were not blocking traffic and the bike lane was clearly closed," he said. "Common sense and compassion were absent."
The worst part is that the bike lane ends with construction right in front anyways. So it’s not like stopping there to pick up that person would have been such a big deal.— m.jammer (@604MJ) March 19, 2021
The couple listened to the officer and Prokaziuk walked with his mother to Elizabeth Street. She almost fell.
"Luckily I was there to catch her," he said.
But what is most shocking to Prokaziuk is that the officer was not wearing a mask.
"He was clearly in front of a medical building that was administrating Covid vaccines to the most vulnerable seniors in our society," said Prokazuik. "He jeopardized his and the health of the most vulnerable by his actions."
But Osborne said the officer was more than six feet away and outside during this interaction, which does not breach social distancing rules.
Prokaziuk said his mother has been isolating and is looking forward to spending time with family after her second vaccination, but the family was saddened by the interaction.
"What should have been a day of celebration was quickly turned to a day of disappointment for our family by the actions of this Parking Enforcement Officer," he said.
"Why are Parking Enforcement Officials patrolling around hospitals without personal protective equipment/masks and not showing any compassion to seniors who have been isolated for months like my mom."
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