Minister questioned about HandyDART today

Today, George Heyman, NDP TransLink Critic had some pointed questions for Minister Todd Stone, the minister responsible for TransLink and BC Transit. We will be watching for the answers.

George Heyman MLA speaks at HandyDART Riders' Alliance forum

George Heyman MLA speaks at HandyDART Riders’ Alliance forum

Morning Sitting
CSA – 20150423 AM 004/alw/1100

Committee of Supply



The House in Committee of Supply (Section A); D. Plecas in the chair.

The committee met at 11 a.m.

G. Heyman: I have two questions: one to do with handyDART and one to do with Bill 2. I’d be happy to receive, in the interests of time, a written response to the questions, but I’d like to read them into the record.

Now, with respect to handyDART, over the next 20 years the number of seniors is going to double to an estimated 1.3 million. In 2012 B.C. had seven out of ten municipalities in Canada with the highest proportion of persons aged 65 or over. StatsCan is projecting that B.C.’s senior population will exceed the national average over the next 25 years.

We have seen almost a 70 percent increase in service denials from handyDART from the year 2008 to today. The 2014 stats are these. A total of 37,804 denials breaking down into…. The categories of denials are 16,869 flat-out denials; 6,750 refusals, which is what happens when somebody phones for a ride and they’re offered something that does not meet their needs — for instance, a ride that won’t get them to their medical appointment on time or that will involve them waiting around for a ride home for a couple of hours after it’s over; and 14,185 unaccommodated standby trips. Standbys are calls that TransLink could not service.

My question is fairly straightforward. First of all, do these numbers match what the minister’s understanding is of handyDART denials in the year 2014?

We all know that part of the mayors service plan is a 30 percent increase in handyDART services. But we talked yesterday about: what’s the plan B? It’s important for seniors and people with mobility issues to know what the plan B is. Whether it’s through the plebiscite and approval of funding or whether it’s through some other measure, they deserve to be able to get out and to get to medical appointments, and they deserve to be assured of that. My question of the minister is: what will he do to ensure that regardless of the outcome of the plebiscite, seniors and people with mobility issues can count on handyDART services?

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