A disabled Vernon man’s fight to access transit has gained some high-profile support.
Adrian Dix, NDP leader, contacted The Morning Star after reading the Ministry of Social Development refused Luc Maclean, 37, a subsidized disability transit pass.
“It’s profoundly unfair,” said Dix.
“You should want people to be active and mobile.”
Maclean sustained a brain injury seven-and-a-half years ago and can’t walk very well, so he relies on a wheelchair. He says a transit pass would make it easier to get around and he could avoid uneven sidewalks or roads without proper shoulders.
Maclean believes the ministry’s refusal of a bus pass is linked to him receiving a federal disability pension instead of provincial assistance.
“This individual and others shouldn’t be pushed off a program designed for them. They aren’t well off,” said Dix.
Maclean’s federal pension is $824 a month, has rent of $630 a month and goes to the Upper Room Mission for dinner.
“He is doing everything he can and they are making it tougher for him,” said Dix.
If Maclean were to get the disabled transit pass, he would pay $45 a year for it, whereas a regular pass for one zone in Vernon is $50 a month.
“He can’t afford to get a transit pass so it’s not money the system would ever see,” said Dix.
Dix says he will be lobbying the ministry to change the eligibility requirement so individuals like Maclean can access a transit pass.
“This change can happen and should happen.”
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, spouses allowance to old age security, income assistance (60-64 years) or income assistance for persons with a disability.
“If a person does not fit into one of these categories, they do not qualify for a bus pass,” states the ministry.
“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.”
Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, says he wants some answers from the ministry about Maclean’s case.
“I have sent an e-mail to the chief of staff of the minister and I will do a follow-up on the situation. I will get informed and touch base with Luc,” said Foster.
“At $824, he would qualify for a (provincial) top-up and then be eligible for a bus pass. We’re still looking into it.”