May 2018

Province must oversee provision of on-demand accessible service

To the editor,

(Editor’s note: This is an open letter to Ontario Minister of Government and Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles.)

The Province of Ontario, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) mandates municipal taxi industries to do on-demand van transportation serving people with disabilities. Section 79 (3) of that Act states, “Municipalities shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2013.”

I believe 79 (3) sends a clear message that this is a public transportation initiative and requires financing by the municipality not the members of the taxi industry. The City of Toronto (City) has put the entire cost of the on-demand van service for the disability community on the shoulders of the taxi industry, which I am sure was not the Province’s intention, but it is the reality of the situation and needs to be stopped.

The disability community for decades has been serviced by the City through the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) WheelTrans Program, but usually only on a pre-booked basis, where almost the total cost for the consumer was paid out of public funds and the disabled client only paid the price of a regular TTC fare.

For many years, part of that service has included wheelchair van service contracted out to the City’s taxi industry. To help with the taxi operators’ costs, they were paid above the normal taxi rate, (unlike the regular taxi meter rate which has not changed for many years), the rate increasing with the TTC’s contract renewal. That contract, by the way, also guarantees each operator so many km’s per day.

With this public transportation of on-demand service, why wasn’t the taxi division of the TTC program enlarged to include both pre-booked and on-demand servicing? Presently, most disabled clients are members of the TTC WheelTrans program so why are they required on on-demand calls to pay a full taxi meter rate when on a pre-book the charge is only a TTC fare –especially considering that so many members of this community are on fixed incomes or social assistance of some kind? Sometimes pre-booking cannot be done and an on-demand service will be required, but the City has not taken that into consideration and is financially punishing the disabled rider for the on-demand service requirement and the taxi operator for providing it.

With your Ministry mandating this service throughout Ontario, it is not only incumbent on you to ensure the service is provided, it is your responsibility and duty to ensure the financial costs of this service are not shouldered by the taxi driver, which is exactly what is happening in Toronto. Since you are the MPP for Scarborough East and Pickering, you have a duty to protect your constituents and many of Toronto’s taxi industry members reside in your riding and need your assistance to stop this unfairness.

I have taken this opportunity to send this email not just to you personally, but to the Ministry and the Accessible Directorate as the face of the Ministry may change with the upcoming provincial election and this complaint must be dealt with regardless of who is the Minister in the next four years. I am attaching to this email a report in which you will see the City has committed additional violations of the provincial statute and has shown it is far from a mature and responsible government. I believe it is essential that the City be supervised to ensure the disabled community receives the service the province mandates at an affordable cost without dumping those costs on the backs of Toronto’s taxi operators.

Gerry Manley


© 2018 Taxi News

Province must oversee provision of on-demand accessible service