Thursday, May 28, 2009

Musing about Access Bus Being an Essential Service

Another letter to the editor was published in yesterday's issue of The Kingston This Week. It was written by a woman who has had to miss medical appointments because of the Access Bus strike. She asks for the buses to get back on the road so she can resume her appointments with the cancer specialist. To read it, please follow this link:

While it is encouraging to see that more people are writing, I have to ask, why are people with disabilities having to write such personal, and often, touching, letters to get the support of Kingstonians to resolve the strike and get the Access Bus back on the road?.

I don't understand how, in a province that aims for full accessiblity by 2025 with the AODA (Accessibiltiy for Ontarian's With Disabilities Act), that this strike has been allowed to drag on. Why are we, the passengers, being told that there is nothing the city or province can do? Kingston Access Bus is a non-profit charitable organization, but the city gives them 95% of their funding. Surely money can be made to talk. Isn't that what democracy is all about?

Could it be that there is just no political will to provide an essential service to people who have a disabiltity? Could it be that Kingston is going to be one of those city's that will have to be forced to accommodate the the disabled when the enforceable part of the law comes into place? I hope not.

Each day I have been able to get up and go to work on the city bus despite losing the service of the Access bus, but I'm one of the lucky ones because I live on an accessible city bus route and my power wheelchair is able to fit into the bus. What about those who don't live on a bus route or who bought a 3 or 4 wheeled scooter that CAN'T fit in the bus? What about those who use manual wheelchairs, walkers, or who just plain can't walk far enough to use the city bus? Don't they have a right to a quality of life too?

Many days, when I'm on the bus I see passengers who use the Access Bus and who tell to me how many appointments they have to miss or how much of a hardship it is in other respects.

This makes me all the more determined to find a way to end this strike. I don't know what will work but I know that civil disobedience parading a bunch of wheelchairs down Princess St will not.

What I am hoping to do is present a motion to council asking for their support to take the province when I ask that the service be declared an essential one. This Monday I will be in Toronto bending the ear of whoever I can find on the accessibility directorate to tell them how unacceptable this is. I will then get a petition or a motion up to the province asking for their support to geth this vital service back on the road.

Please, if you're reading this blog, and agree with the essential nature of the service, write your MPP and ask for it.

We need all the support we can get. Thank you.

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