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Disabled transit pass denied

Vernon’s Luc Maclean says he has been refused a disabled transit pass by the provincial government. - Richard Rolke/Morning Star
Vernon’s Luc Maclean says he has been refused a disabled transit pass by the provincial government.
— image credit: Richard Rolke/Morning Star

Luc Maclean has relied on a wheelchair for years so it came as a surprise when a government agency apparently questioned his disability.

Maclean, 37, contacted the Ministry of Social Development about getting a subsidized disability transit pass but, “they told me I’m not disabled,” he said.

“I thought it was kind of funny.”

Maclean sustained a brain injury seven-and-a-half years ago and can’t walk very well. So most of his day is spent in a wheelchair, which he uses to get around town, including to Vernon city hall, where he is known to follow meetings focused on accessibility.

While he doesn’t plan to use transit a lot, Maclean says the bus would make it a lot easier to get around.

“The chair battery doesn’t last very long,” he said, adding that local roads are not always accessible by wheelchairs.

“There are some sidewalks I can’t get on to and there may be hydro poles in the middle of them.”

He qualifies for the HandyDart bus, but it’s not always convenient because you have to book that service a week in advance.

Maclean suspects the ministry’s refusal of a bus pass is linked to him receiving a federal disability pension instead of provincial assistance.

“They say I make too much but I get $824 a month. My rent is $630 a month and I go to the Upper Room Mission for dinner,” he said.

If he were to get the disabled transit pass, he would pay $45 a year for it.

Maclean hopes the ministry will reconsider its position, and he is making his concerns known.

“I went to the MLA’s office and was told there is nothing they can do,” he said.

The Ministry of Social Development says B.C. is the only province that subsidizes bus passes for low-income seniors and people receiving provincial disability assistance.

“If a person does not fit into one of these categories, they do not qualify for a bus pass,” it states.

“The ministry currently spends more than $50 million a year on this program to about 90,000 people. The ministry acknowledges there is high demand for this popular program. However expanding eligibility for the bus pass program is not being considered at this time.

“With a caseload of about 175,000 people, it’s important that ministry policies are applied in a regular, standard and fair way.

To qualify for the B.C. bus pass program, you must be receiving any of the following:

– Federal Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

– Spouses Allowance to Old Age Security

– Income Assistance (60-64 years)

– Income Assistance for persons with a disability.

 

 

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