TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2016 /CNW/ - CNIB will be presenting a deputation at City Hall on Monday, November 21, 2016 to a meeting of the TTC Board to defend transit concessions for people with vision loss. A TTC staff report states the TTC Board is looking at ways to close the $6-million shortfall in its budget. One cut being considered, which would be effective as of January 1, 2017, is the free pass program currently provided to people who are blind or partially sighted. The program has been in existence for over 35 years.
"Eliminating the free transit pass program will place a financial burden on the roughly 3,000 people who are blind and partially sighted who currently have free travel on the TTC. For many, it will mean they will no longer have access to employment and community resources," said Angela Bonfanti, Executive Director, GTA, CNIB Ontario. "Half of working-age Canadians with vision loss are struggling to make ends meet on annual incomes of $20,000 or less. They simply cannot afford to pay for TTC passes."
"Independence and inclusion in society are not privileges; they are our rights. Without the ability to travel in the community, many will be forced to live in isolation," said Ray Smith, Coordinator, Advocacy and Stakeholder Engagement, CNIB Ontario. Smith, who is partially sighted, relies on the TTC to get to work.
Without access to transit, people with vision loss may experience:
- Reduced independence (e.g., ability to carry out the necessities of everyday life such as grocery shopping, doctor appointments, etc.)
- Higher unemployment and increased reliance on community support services
- Reduced opportunities for access to education and recreation
- Increased isolation and depression, and reduced socialization
CNIB is offering to sit down with the TTC, the City and other stakeholders to discuss options for budget cuts. "We recognize costs must be cut, but we believe there are other options besides restricting the rights of people with disabilities," said Bonfanti.
The TTC meeting is being held on Monday, November 21, 2016 at 10 a.m., in Committee Room #2, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto.
CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To learn more, visit www.cnib.ca/en/ontario or call the toll-free CNIB Contact Centre at 1-800-563-2642.
For further information: Shannon Simpson, Manager, Communications, CNIB Ontario, 519-685-8420 ext. 5147, [email protected]