KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Community Services has finally announced details around its implementation of the free bus pass for folks on social assistance.
An email from the department to local service providers refers to a phased implementation.
Social assistance recipients in HRM who receive a transportation allowance of $78 or less will receive their bus passes first. That includes people who don’t receive a transportation allowance at all.
Next it is the turn of people who get more than $78. Then there will be an opportunity for anybody who missed the boat the first time around.
This first phase is set to start on June 23. Mind that this is not the date people will receive their bus pass, it’s the date Community Services starts working on the distribution.
The email confirms that people who currently receive a transportation allowance for a bus pass or tickets will lose that extra money when they receive their bus pass. The transportation allowance to purchase a bus pass or tickets will no longer be paid on the October 2018 cheque.
That’s a lot of money to lose. In some cases losing that money is like absorbing a 13% pay cut on an already totally inadequate budget. The freedom to buy a few more groceries rather than bus tickets during a particularly rough month financially is now gone.
In a Question and Answer sheet attached to the email the department refers to the project as a pilot, to determine if this approach can work in other places where there is public transportation.
The bus pass will look just like the current annual Metro Transit pass, except it will not include the employer/organization name. It will include the picture of the client, the client’s full name and Registry ID number.
The bus pass was designed with the privacy of clients in mind so as not to identify clients as income assistance recipients, Community Services explains.
There are eight locations, to be announced, where the people who qualify for phase 1 can have their photo taken. The bus pass will be mailed to them.
No social assistance recipients were part of the working group that worked on the details of the project.
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