First published: 12/20/2016. Revised: 01/05/2017
January 5, 2017, LONDON, ON – CNIB commends the City of London for voting to maintain the $10-annual transit pass program used by some Londoners who are legally blind. City Council voted nine to four in favour of maintaining the program on December 19, 2016. Based on accepted population health data, an estimated 7,000 Londoners live with vision loss. Of those individuals, 2,497 are on record as users of CNIB's services. About 720 are considered legally blind and thus eligible for the $10-annual transit pass. However, only 320 to 400 people access the $10-annual transit pass each month.
"We are grateful the London City Council recognizes the unique challenges of people who are legally blind," said Rob Gaunt, Executive Director for CNIB in Western Ontario. "This is an issue of safety above all. People who are legally blind are acutely aware that they are much safer riding on transit than walking on the street. Public transit is their lifeline to the outside world. Without it, they would be unable to travel independently in their community."
Affordability is another key issue. Half of working-age Canadians with vision loss are struggling to make ends meet on annual incomes of $20,000 or less. The $10-annual transit pass program makes public transit affordable for the people who can't pay more.
"City Council's intentions are to do good – to help as many low income residents as possible. The new program they supported last night will provide a subsidized pass for Londoners who are most in need of financial assistance. And they did it without hurting one of the City's most vulnerable populations – the blind," said Gaunt.
As stated in a City of London staff report: "The purpose of the subsidized transit program is to provide accessible public transit to individuals in order to help remove and prevent barriers that affect a person’s ability to gain and maintain employment, access health care, recreational, educational and social activities for themselves and their families."About CNIB
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/ontario
or call the toll-free CNIB Contact Centre at 1-800-563-2642.
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