QEH parking attendent suspended after picture taken for toll-booth story

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on May 3, 2014

Debbie Heald, Queen Elizabeth Hospital parking lot security employee, takes a ticket from a motorist leaving the parking lot Wednesday. Health Minister Doug Currie said in the legislature Wednesday that he may look at the possibility of providing price relief to QEH visitors using the parking lot.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

An Island man whose wife was temporarily suspended from her job as a commissionaire after her picture appeared in The Guardian says the situation is ridiculous.

George Heald’s wife, Debbie, was working in the ticket booth at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown last week when a Guardian photographer took her picture without first contacting the hospital’s communications staff.

Debbie works for Commissionaires and George said she was told on Friday that she was being put on an administrative suspension pending the outcome of an investigation.

“I was livid.”

Commissionaires provide contracted security services to the provincial and federal governments, including at the QEH.

The picture ran in The Guardian on April 24 and Debbie worked part of her shift Friday at the QEH before she was told she was suspended without pay until the investigation was completed.

Debbie was also scheduled to work Saturday and Sunday.

George said she has since been told she will be reinstated, paid for the shifts missed during the suspension and will be given a verbal reprimand.

Commissionaires N.B./P.E.I. CEO Peter Kramers confirmed Debbie was suspended pending the results of an investigation related to hospital and corporate policies about contact with the media.

Kramers said he couldn’t discuss the situation further and referred inquiries to the QEH.

In a statement, the hospital’s CAO Jamie MacDonald said the QEH contracts its security services to Commissionaires and is happy with the service it provides.

“We are not in a position to comment about the human resource management protocols and processes followed by the Commissionaire Corps of Canada as it relates to the staff they assign to provide security services at our hospitals as we do not get involved in their internal operations,” MacDonald said.

Now that his wife is going back to work, George said he still doesn’t think his wife did anything wrong.

He also said if Commissionaires thought there might have been a problem it should have investigated and then taken actions if it felt any were necessary instead of suspending her first.

“I think it’s ridiculous and that it could have been handled better.”