By Karen McCall, M.Ed.
June 8, 2012
On June 5, 2012 the County of Brant, County Council voted unanimously to reverse their decision to eliminate specific types of travel to the specialized transportation service (County Service) for people with disabilities. There were no “abuses” to the service by people with disabilities.
During this process, in order to help the politicians understand our rights and the fact that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was a law they couldn’t ignore, I wrote a 50 page report consolidating research from other communities on specialized transportation services where accessible taxi was the only “transit system” in the municipality.
As of June 5, the County of Brant has also implemented a working group to identify the needs of people with disabilities in the County and how to best proceed in implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Integrated Accessibility Standards, part IV – Transportation.
It became clear as I investigated the proposed elimination of service that the issue was a contractual dispute between the County and its contractor and that both sides were focusing on people with disabilities instead of dealing with each other and the contract.
So, we are making progress but I remain cautious as the County explores implementing the other parts of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
In a somewhat related topic, that of specialized transportation service for people with disabilities, I came across and read information on the province of Ontario’s “Aging at Home Strategy.” One question immediately found its way into my thought process: How is the provincial government going to address mobility within the community by seniors who can’t drive due to disability?
It is one thing to promote projects and provide funding for health care at home but maintaining one’s health is only one part of being independent in one’s home. A person has to have the ability to go to the store, get their hair cut, meet friends at a coffee shop or restaurant or attend local activities.
If the “Aging at Home Strategy” does not address the specialized transportation needs of seniors then seniors have simply exchanged the walls of one confinement for another. They do not have the freedom to move about their community.
I am interested in anyone else who might be looking into this and any committees bringing this gap in service to the provincial government for action.
With funding cuts to transportation projects over the past ten years, funding needs to be available to municipalities to assist with the cost of specialized transportation services if Ontarians are being encouraged to “age at home.”