Quebec seniors to be left to fend for themselves

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The Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable denounced the decision of the MTQ to stop financing volunteer transportation in Quebec from 2018.  Volunteer community transportation services are not only an alternative to public transportation or taxi services, it is a personalized method of accompaniment for medical appointments.

The Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable denounced the decision of the MTQ to stop financing volunteer transportation in Quebec from 2018.  Volunteer community transportation services are not only an alternative to public transportation or taxi services, it is a personalized method of accompaniment for medical appointments. Volunteer drivers pick up clients at their homes, wait for them, help them into wheelchairs, etc. This develops a bond of trust and helps create a social
security net for isolated people.
In rural Outaouais, four organizations provide volunteer community transportation services, including Transcollines and TransporAction Pontiac; 40 000 annual trips are carried out. In addition, public transportation and taxi services are extremely limited, if not non-existent. Transportation by volunteers remains essential to address specific needs.
In its most recent “programme d’aide au développement du transport collectif“, the MTQ writes: “The year 2017 will be the last in which subsidies can be used to cover a part of the travel expenses related to transportation provided by volunteers.” This decision will effectively lead to the closing of services in most of the affected organizations.                                                         
Carl Hager, volunteer for TransporAction Pontiac and a member of Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable’s board explains: “The clients of TransporAction Pontiac do not live on the major trunk line of the region, that is route 148; often they live kilometres away. Their needs can range from 6am surgeries at the major hospitals in Gatineau to late afternoon medical appointments. Because appointments can occur all hours of the day, a “regular” bus service would be extremely inefficient and unprofitable.”
Marie-Pierre Drolet, director at Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable is also worried: “We know many geographically isolated seniors will not have access to essential medical treatments, because of a lack of transportation options to get there. Consequences will be tragic!”
Furthermore, Benoit Legros, planning manager at Transcollines explains: “This
decision is based on two misunderstandings. Firstly, that there is unfair competition for taxi drivers when, in reality, with the low population here, taxi companies can’t be profitable. The second concerns what constitutes public transportation. For us, transportation by volunteers in their own cars is an alternative method to the individual driving themselves and consequently should be considered as
a public transportation system.”
The Seniors’ Roundtable is asking the MTQ to reconsider its decision to stop funding this program in order to take account of the rural and isolated context of its affected clientele. 

Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable