Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MLA raises issues of wheelchair fees on BC Ferries

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice closed out the Monday Question period in the Legislature with an inquiry for Transportation Minister Todd Stone, seeking some answers on the topic of extra fees for wheelchair users on BC Ferries.

Ms. Rice called attention to the increased cost of sleeping quarters accommodation on BC Ferries which normally cost 90 dollars, but apparently feature the need to provide an extra 30 dollars if you require the use of a wheelchair.

Citing the unfair nature of the extra cost, as discrimination against those who use wheel chairs, she sought clarification on the issue from the Minister.

The Inside Passage and Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert ferry routes are often overnight trips. For sleeping quarters it's $90, but if you use a wheelchair, it's $120. The Minister of Transportation has claimed he is trying to do what he can to "ensure that the fares are as affordable as they can possibly be." To the Minister of Transportation: why are people who use wheelchairs being discriminated against with this unfair extra fee?  -- MLA Jennifer Rice on Monday afternoon at the Legislature

Mr. Stone's response did not exactly address the issue very well, offering up some positioning on the nature of Transportation and accessibility themes.

The Minister on Monday, was not seemingly inclined to comment on the specific item of note raised during the Question Period, without receiving further background from Ms. Rice.

Though he did stress the attention that the province has towards accessibility issues. Something that it would appear is coming up a little short when it comes to travel on BC Ferries vessels.

 Let me say that in our efforts as government to position British Columbia as being one of the most accessible jurisdictions in North America and certainly in Canada, there is a huge role for transportation, obviously, to play in that. 

This is why, on a regular basis — whether it's involving transit buses, whether it involves B.C. ferries and other facets of transportation — we have as a matter of requirement to ensure that when new assets are replaced and retrofits are done, to the maximum extent possible we take into account accessibility requirements. 

Now, if the member has some specific information about a specific route, I would be more than happy to look into that further. Our goal is to be the most accessible jurisdiction in North America. -- Minister Todd Stone in response to MLA Rice's question of Monday

You can find the discussion in the pages of Hansard for Monday Afternoon Ms. Rice poses her question at just before the 1430 mark.

The question from the North Coast MLA to Minister Stone and his reply can be viewed below.

For more items related to developments at the Legislature see our Archive page here.

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