TransporAction wins agreement to fund volunteer drivers

Added: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:07pm
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Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC & PONTIAC – After being threatened by a recent change to the Ministry of Transport's (MTQ) Public Transportation Development Assistance Program, users and providers of volunteer transportation services, like TransporAction Pontiac, can now breathe a sigh of relief.
In a meeting, July 6, between the Outaouais' wardens, Pontiac MNA André Fortin, Stéphanie Vallée, Minister responsible for the Outaouais region, and Laurent Lessard, Transport Minister, Lessard agreed to change the Ministry's new regulatory framework to allow volunteer transportation services to
reimburse their volunteers with the Program's funding. “The [clause] allowing volunteer transportation will not be removed,” said Fortin.
Starting in 2018, Article 48.19 of the Transportation Act would have put volunteer transportation services in jeopardy by favouring organized transportation services – those offering set routes with paid drivers – and not allowing organizations to use funding to reimburse volunteer drivers' expenses. The funds could have been used to pay trips made by taxis or mini-buses, but Sylvie Bertrand, TransporAction Director General, explained the huge price increase would have greatly reduced the number of trips made by the organization and significantly increased costs for users.
Compared to 48 cents per kilometre given to volunteers to cover gas and maintenance, mini-buses cost $1.60 per kilometre and taxis cost $1.25. 
Although Bertrand is happy about the news, she explained the program only runs until 2020 and could be amended at that time. “But for now, volunteer transportation is secure for the population and our services will not change,” she said.
TransporAction already suffered a big funding cut last year when the amount they receive from the MTQ was reduced from $100,000 to $75,000. The organization's volunteer drivers made almost 12,000 trips last year, excluding adapted transportation.