04/12/2013 01:33 EDT | Updated 06/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Alberta reverses veterans cuts; discount hospital parking remains

CALGARY - Alberta Health Services has reversed a decision to end discounted hospital parking for veterans in Calgary and may extend the program throughout the province.

"We made a mistake," spokesman Roman Cooney said Friday. "We realized that, in trying to be fair across the province, we inadvertently and wrongly did a disservice to veterans."

The agency, which governs day-to-day health operations, had planned to phase out the sale of parking passes to the Calgary Poppy Fund. Those passes were then lent to veterans and their spouses for use at city hospitals.

After a public and political outcry, Alberta Health Services has apologized to veterans and the Calgary Poppy Fund for the way the decision was made and implemented.

Cooney said the agency will keep the current policy in place for at least one year, during which time a new parking policy will be devised that takes the needs of veterans into account.

Cooney said that policy could also be implemented for all hospitals in the province.

"We wouldn't want to compound the error by not recognizing that we have veterans all across Alberta," he said. "Let's make sure we get it right all across the province."

Agency officials are to meet with veterans and the Calgary Poppy Fund on Monday.