New monthly $52 charge for a disability bus pass replaces $45 annual fee.
25 year old Brandon Charmley has physical and developmental disabilities and relied heavily on a bus pass he used to get around Nanaimo, including to his job at Frank Crane arena.
However he gave up his bus pass on September 1st, deciding not to pay the new $52 a month fee, replacing the previous annual fee of $45.
“Because I needed the money for other expenses” he told CHEK News.
The Province also increased the monthly allowance for people with disabilities by $77 to $983, the first raise in 9 years.
After the new increase for bus passes, $25 is left over, so 3500 people have abandoned their bus passes in order to realize the full 77 extra dollars.
Brandon’s mother says people with disabilities are being treated like second class citizens.
“I’m frustrated about the whole disability bus pass issue because we have worked so diligently to get our boys to a point of being independent, many parents have done that” said Delphine Charmley.
The NDP is calling it a double standard.
“It’s so cold hearted. We’ve seen a billion dollars in tax breaks for the top 2% in this province, the people the millionaires who do not need more money in their pocket, they’re giving them more money and they’re taking away a bus from those who need it the most” said Scott Fraser, NDP MLA for Alberni – Pacific Rim.
CHEK News spoke with Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell before she left for the Rio Paralympic games.
“So certainly all those individuals who are saying they won’t have a bus pass, they actually do have access to a bus pass. They have more money today than they had yesterday. I understand it’s not as much as they’d like to see of an increase but that’s something our government continues to work towards” she said.
“What makes her gold medals more important than those of our BC Special olympians because I know a lot of special olympians who have contacted me and said they can no longer afford their bus passes so now they can’t get to their activities so they have basically had their dreams of gold medals quashed” added Delphine Charmley.