Tag Archives: funding

Transportation woes mount for patients

Brenda Snider, executive director for Volunteer and Information Quinte, said her organization is struggling to assist people in need of transportation to medical appointments as current services are stretched to their limits for volunteer drivers and excessive fuel costs. The double whammy has seriously impacted people in need of rides to important appointments, said Snider.

“The core issue is that we’re seeing an increasing number of individuals requiring transportation services that do not fall into any particular category,” said Snider.

One such individual is the 78-year-old mother of high school teacher Debbie Clare , Elizabeth MacLeod, who must travel to Kingston for a medical appointment later this month. While Clare has been able to secure transportation for her wheelchair-bound mother, it was a long, drawn-out process.

“My mom’s had a stroke so she is basically a quadriplegic,” she explained. “She requires 24-hour care and she is at Hastings Manor.”

Last year, MacLeod developed a sore on her back that was determined to be cancerous and of such a size that a plastic surgeon would have to remove it. The doctor forwarded MacLeod to a Kingston-based surgeon who will perform the necessary procedure later next week.

While Clare said she was happy to finally have an appointment for her mother, she had no idea how difficult it would be to get her there.

“I assumed the Manor would take her, but they don’t do that. I phoned different local agencies that the Manor said would probably provide wheelchair transportation, but one told me I wasn’t in their geographic area, another said because she wasn’t registered as a client they couldn’t take her, another agency said their volunteers do drive cancer patients, but they aren’t wheelchair accessible … It just went on and on,” she said.

Even options such as taking a train or borrowing someone’s vehicle proved futile as time concerns and medical needs created constraints. Using either a wheelchair bus or wheelchair-accessible taxi were also investigated but prices between $500 and $700 for a round-trip to Kingston were too high.

“I just thought things were getting a little outrageous,” Clare said. “I literally called 15 or 20 people and I even went to our MPP’s office and they, eventually, put me in touch with an agency who is able to take her.”

Despite securing transportation for her mother, Clare said there is no reason people in need of transportation for medical appointments should have to face such an uphill struggle.

“It just continued to be six or seven days of a few hours on the telephone trying to get this done,” she said. “How do people in a wheelchair that don’t have their own vehicle survive? How can they get anything done? It was such an eye opener throughout the whole thing.”

Clare said as she continued to be bounced back and forth from agency to agency she questioned why there isn’t a better system in place to take care of people in need of such transportation.

“I just thought the whole thing was overwhelming,” she said.

It can be, Snider concurred.

Clare’s story, sadly, is not unusual. Snider said her agency receives between three to four calls each week with residents sharing similar stories. While there are agencies out there many can’t meet the demand and there is a large gap left where many people fall.

“There are a lot of people out there who don’t have the means or the finances to acquire needed transportation,” she said.

Snider explained many local residents often require medical care in Kingston and are forced to face the same battle Clare recently waged. However, even shorter trips such as travelling from Quinte West to Belleville can bring financial woes and hardships.

“It’s not that agencies don’t want to help, it’s that they can’t because they’re already overburdened,” she said. “Agencies have pulled together and have done what they need and what they can. It’s an issue that everybody knows is there but no one knows the solution.”

Snider, however, said there is a solution there if someone would step forward.

“The ideal solution would be if there was an organization that handled transportation for everyone,” she said. “But, who’s going to take that on and where does the funding come from?”

brice.mcvicar@sunmedia.ca

National Public Transit: Province puts $3.4M to expanding public transit between Edmonton, Leduc, Nisku

The provincial government announced plans Tuesday to invest millions to help  expand public transit between Leduc, Nisku, Leduc County and Edmonton.

On Tuesday, the province said $3.4 million in funding to expand the “C-Line”  inter-municipal bus service currently running between those communities.

The “C-Line” runs from Century Park in Edmonton, to bus stops in Nisku and  Leduc, before looping back to Century Park – with a total of five trips running  during morning and afternoon peak times Monday to Friday. Continue reading

National Public Transit: Student transit U-Pass deal extended three years at 10 universities and colleges in Metro Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The province is putting forward nearly $35 million to extend its discounted transit program to all public colleges and universities in Metro Vancouver.

According to a news release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the government has committed $34.5 million to help TransLink offset the costs of the U-Pass B.C. over the next three years, so students can purchase a transit pass for $35 per month — saving them between $56 and $135 each month.

The discounted pass is an initiative from the government, TransLink, students and their schools, to help encourage 140,000 students to use public transit. Continue reading

Olivia Chow hosts open forum on public transit

(Source: CP24) — The federal government must make a long-term financial commitment to building public transit if it is indeed serious about reducing gridlock in cities like Toronto.

That’s the message that NDP MP Olivia Chow delivered to a group of about 75 students at a forum on public transit Thursday night.

The event, “End Gridlock; Get Canada Moving: A Plan For Action” was held at Vanier College on the York University campus.

Olivia Chow, news, rural public transit

In terms of GTA gridlock, Chow said that the greatest problem is finding “long-term, predictable funding.”

“It’s not just about how much – it’s about how it’s given out,” Chow said following the forum Thursday night. “Short-term funding just doesn’t work. So the federal government needs to take the leadership and partner with different levels of government so that we can solve the gridlock problem together.”

Chow said she is currently waiting for a response from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on the strategy.

“What is exciting, is that the [Federation of Canadian Municipalities] and mayors from across the country are joining together and saying that a long-term plan is what’s needed,” she said.

Traditionally the federal government has funded public transit infrastructure on a project-by-project basis, but Chow said they should make at least a 20-year financial commitment so city’s like Toronto can plan for the long term.

A similar commitment was made by the Government of Ontario in 2010 when it pledged to complete five major transit projects within 10 years at a cost of $9.5 billion.

“It should really be about a 20-year commitment that is predictable and that grows with the economy and grows with the ridership,” Chow told CP24 earlier Thursday. “As you know, more and more people are taking the TTC, but as a result we are packed. There are times you can’t even get onto the streetcar or get into the subway because the cars are packed. We need more [transit].”

Chow, the NDP’s transport and infrastructure critic, has publically called for a national transit strategy in the past, however to date she has not had any success getting the Conservative government on side with her private member’s bill.

Speaking with CP24 Thursday, Chow suggested the problem is reaching a boiling point.

“We desperately need a national transit strategy because, on average, Canadians are spending almost a month a year trying to get to work, or classes, or to visits friends,” she said. “Here in the GTA, it’s even worse. We spend about 82 minutes a day commuting and that’s time that we could be spending with our families.”

Chow’s meeting on public transit comes in the wake of the City of Toronto rolling out a campaign to solicit ideas from the public on how it can improve its transit network.

The “Feeling Congested?” campaign was unveiled Monday with the launch of an interactive website and the announcement that four public consultations will be held on transit over the next two weeks.