My Bus Pass Ordeal

By: 

Doreen Gee

As a client on provincial disability benefits, I have an annual bus pass that enables me to get to work, buy groceries, go to medical appointments and buy medications. My disability is psychological and not physical, so I am not eligible for handi-dart and I cannot afford a taxi. My bus pass is an absolute lifeline to me; without it, I have a hard time even meeting my basic needs.

I guard that bus pass with my life, but unfortunately at the end of last October it fell out of my pocket and I lost it — which can happen to anyone. I called the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, which issues the pass, immediately. I immediately applied for a new bus pass, and paid for it.

The Ministry website says that people can expect to wait five weeks for a replacement pass. I ended up waiting a month. This is far too long for a person with a disability to have to wait for something that is so vital for meeting basic needs. I work part time to augment my disability income but was not even able to get to work during this wait time. I was not able to go to medical appointments, and I could not travel to buy food. Without my bus pass, I experienced severe personal hardship.

This does not need to happen. I talked to the staff of the bus pass program three times between the end of October and the end of November, telling them that I was not able get to work or buy groceries, and I asked them three times to at least send me some bus tickets or a temporary pass until the new pass arrived. They refused my request three times, saying "We do not do that." I suffered severe hardship that put my employment and my health at serious risk. The Ministry, which is supposed to be supporting me to address my living needs, put me into a serious crisis where I was not able to meet my basic needs. This should not happen to people with chronic physical and mental disabilities. It is an unacceptable situation, which negatively impacts many very fragile, powerless, vulnerable citizens — including me.

I am hoping that this article in Taproot will bring awareness to an intolerable situation.