Kirwan Vows To Open Handi-Transit Services to both Physically and Mentally Challenged Clients

Date:                     October 20, 2014

To:                        Media

From:                    Robert Kirwan
                             Candidate for Councillor of Ward 5

Re:                         Kirwan Vows To Open Handi-Transit Services to both Physically and Mentally Challenged Clients


I am greatly distressed to discover that the Handi-Transit service in the City of Greater Sudbury is currently denying access to many of our residents who have cognitive disabilities or mental health issues. I am making a solemn commitment to fight for the rights of all persons with physical or mental disabilities that make it impossible for them to use regular transit busses/ Further, I will be asking my fellow Councillors to support me in demanding a change to the City policy that will end the discrimination that is being felt by so many of our mentally challenged citizens.

Recent changes in policy have been implemented which has forced all clients of Handi-Transit to complete an application form and prove beyond any doubt in front of an Eligibility Assessment Advisor that they are unable to ride conventional public transit buses. Persons with physical or cognitive disabilities who are deemed to be able to use the regular transit service will be removed from the full-time Handi-Transit list.

City Staff claim that the eligibility requirements are the same as they have always been for many years. They claim that Handi-Transit is dedicated to citizens who cannot access conventional transportation because of a “physical” disability. However, it appears as if individuals with autism, Alzheimer’s and other forms of debilitating mental disabilities are being denied access to the service. There have even been examples of adults who are functioning at the level of a three-year old being denied access to the service and this has many residents up in arms. So much so that they have begun to create a petition to be sent to the City Councillors.

Some of the residents have been informed that they can appeal the decision, but that a formal appeal process has not yet been developed. What is frustrating is that some individuals who have been using Handi-Transit for years have had to go through the Assessment process and are now being told that they can no longer utilize the services.

I will be asking for the full support of City Councillors to direct the Manager of Handi-Transit services to come up with a policy that will stop discriminating against individuals on the basis of their type of disability. It doesn’t matter whether a person has a physical or mental disability. If that person is not able to use public transit buses without the potential of putting him/herself or others in danger, then the person should qualify for Handi-Transit Service.

If this means that the City of Greater Sudbury is going to have to invest in more Handi-Transit vehicles, then so be it! We have a responsibility to those among us who are most vulnerable and most in need of our services. Mentally challenged individuals require the same services as physically challenged individual and it is time for the Ctiy to change any policy that gives the appearance of discrimination/

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