WINNIPEG, MB – The province’s decision to end their funding guarantee for public transit could affect more than regular service – it could also hurt Winnipeg’s Handi-Transit service. This service is critical for persons with disabilities in Winnipeg.
Public transit is important for many reasons, but most important is that it provides mobility for those who lack access to other options. Handi-Transit, which is funded by the province in the same way as regular transit, is a critical component of our transit network.
Allen Mankewich from the Independent Living Resource Centre (ILRC) says, “we are worried that the cuts could reduce resources to a system which is already at a point where it’s not adequately meeting the needs of people with disabilities and seniors.”
The ILRC encourages participation of all people with disabilities in all aspects of the community. A properly managed and funded Handi-Transit system is necessary for achieving some of these objectives for its members. “Without transportation options like Handi-Transit, many people would not have access to opportunities in the community,” says Mankewich.
People who rely on Handi-Transit use it to access the necessities of life including grocery stores, schools and workplaces. But it’s not just about the necessities. Public transit is key to accessing recreational activities, meeting up with friends and other social outings.
Winnipeggers count on Handi-Transit and cuts could lead to less reliable service and fewer, more costly options.
According to Mankewich, “The ILRC filed a complaint with the Manitoba Ombudsman in 2016 as a result of the administrative and operational failings of the Handi-Transit system. The complaint wasn’t about funding; it was about poor management. Many people with disabilities came forward to share their concerns with us. We are worried that if the system is further scaled back due to funding issues, the number of complaints will just continue to rise.”
ILRC is supporting a campaign by Functional Transit Winnipeg (FTW) to reverse public transit cuts and to maintain provincial funding guarantees. The campaign is urging the province to amend Bill 36 which will be going before the legislature for second and third reading in October.
“Mobility is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” says Joseph Kornelsen, Chair of FTW. “Regular transit service and Handi-Transit must be properly funded to ensure that Winnipeggers are able to conveniently get to the places they need to throughout the city.”