The NDP Caucus and frontline workers who support those living in poverty are calling on government to address the prohibitive barriers to affordable transportation and to provide people on income support with bus passes.
Gerry Rogers, MHA for St. John’s Centre, and advocates for a low-income bus pass will hold a news conference tomorrow, Tuesday, July 24 at 2:30 p.m. at the Gathering Place, 172 Military Road in St. John’s.
Speakers will include: Dr. Darrell Wade, Chiropractor, New Hope Community Centre; representatives from the Pottle Centre and the Gathering Place; and Sabrina Somerton, mother of four-year-old Matthew, who is in need of a bus pass. The media are invited to attend to hear their stories.
“I’ve heard directly from doctors, mental health workers, those who work with seniors – they all have grave concerns about the isolation and impacts on mental health resulting from a lack of affordable transportation,” Rogers said. “People are isolated, they can’t get to food banks, grocery stores, their church, their support groups.”
Earlier this year, 60 frontline workers, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and community support workers, wrote an open letter to the Minister of Finance calling on government to re-examine how low-income people access transportation.
Currently, people on income assistance must have at least eight medically necessary appointments per month, all covered by MCP, in order to qualify for a government funded bus pass. The experts agree that this requirement is a prohibitive barrier for many.
Rogers says government should provide everyone on income support with a bus pass, free of charge, in order to access appointments, travel freely, and participate more fully in their community.
“Other provinces are making transportation accessible for low-income people, we need to do this too,” Rogers said.