Provincial official says provision of on-demand wheelchair accessible taxi service is responsibility of the City of Toronto, not individual owner/operators
by Mike Beggs
In a development that may represent potential relief for beleaguered Toronto Taxi License (TTL) holders, a provincial official has finally acknowledged that, “it is the City of Toronto’s responsibility to meet the Province’s on-demand wheelchair accessible servicing.”
This encouraging information came on September 17 in an e-mail from the outreach component of the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility to veteran Toronto owner/operator Gerry Manley, who has been hammering at this issue for some two decades.
The correspondence states that, “Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Transportation Standards, “It is recommended the responsibility of on-demand wheelchair accessible taxi-cabs be placed on municipalities, as opposed to the individual owner/operators. As a result individual owner/operators are not accountable under the Act.”
Manley maintains the City has issued 550 TTL’s to provide this on-demand accessible service when about 50 vehicles would be sufficient. As a result many of these divers are barely able to survive on the road.
“Since you have now been made aware of the City’s violation surrounding the AODA, the question is what is the Province going to do about rectifying this grievous injustice?” he responds to the Ministry.
He notes TTL drivers have paid out “millions and millions of dollars for nothing” and that since the day the TTL came out in February of 2014, “I told them, it’s not your responsibility.”
He advises them to contact Queen’s Park as soon as possible, “as the purchase and operational costs of these ($70,000) vans is the City’s, not yours.”
He deems it a golden opportunity for them.
“It’s really their last opportunity for justice,” he adds. “If they don’t take advantage of this… Really, they need to jump on the bandwagon and start standing up for themselves… Somebody should notify their lawyer.”
Manley explains that this issue actually dates right back to 1999 when “W” plates were first introduced. At that time, the City provided a financial incentive for the purchase of these vans, but soon discontinued it. In the interim, the drivers just kept paying.
Manley has been actively attempting to right this wrong ever since.
“The TTL guys never believed me, now they’ve got an answer from the Ministry which deals with accessibility,” he says. “You should be using this as proof that the City was not living up to its obligations.”
Owner Andy Reti notes that the City was told many times that this program was its responsibility, and “ignored it”.
“I feel very strongly these people should get together and go after the City,” he agrees. “They pay all of the expenses -- gas, insurance, vehicle update, and maintenance – on these vehicles.”