CNIB Defending Free TTC Pass Program as City Council Reviews Budget

11/23/2016

November 23, 2016, TORONTO – CNIB is calling on Toronto City Council to protect transit concessions for people with vision loss. At a meeting in Toronto on November 21, 2016, the TTC Board left on the table the possibility of eliminating the free pass program currently provided to people who are blind or partially sighted. Even with the increase it made to the price of a token, the TTC board was not able to balance its books, falling $61 million short of its target. It is now up to City Council to identify the cuts needed to balance the TTC budget.

"We are disappointed with the TTC that the possibility of eliminating the free pass for people with vision loss is still going to be considered and we urge City Council to keep this program going," said Angela Bonfanti, Executive Director, GTA, CNIB Ontario. CNIB is approaching the City to request that it be permitted to speak to the city's budget committee on the issue.

The program provides free passes to approximately 3,000 people who are blind or partially sighted. Half of working-aged Canadians with vision loss struggle to make ends meet on annual incomes of $20,000 or less.

"Not everyone who has vision loss needs a free pass, but for the people who rely on it, it is the only option they have to go to work or appointments or just to see friends and family. If the program is eliminated, they will no longer have access to employment and community resources," said Ray Smith, Coordinator, Advocacy and Stakeholder Engagement, CNIB Ontario. Smith, who is partially sighted, presented CNIB's deputation to the TTC Board.

"No one will gain from eliminating the program," said Bonfanti. "It costs the TTC nothing because CNIB administrates the program with our incredible volunteers. And the people who rely on free passes will not be able to afford paying. We must avoid any decision which results in people who are already marginalized being deprived of their independence and inclusion in society. TTC needs to work with stakeholders, like CNIB, to identify solutions that incorporate the needs of our clients."

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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For more information, please contact:
Kat Clarke
Specialist, Advocacy & Community Impact
CNIB
416-486-2500 ext. 7651
advocacy@cnib.ca

For media enquiries, please contact:
Shannon Simpson
Manager, Communications
CNIB
519-685-8420 ext. 5147
shannon.simpson@cnib.ca

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