Tag Archives: ontario

Why Crowding The TTC Further Is Cruel And Targets The Disabled

In winter of 2007, I suffered a severe ankle sprain that left me on crutches for several weeks.  If you haven’t had the joy of being a non-driver with no local family hobbling on crutches in the winter, it’s a true delight.  I loved hobbling through improperly cleared sidewalks, tripping in slushy residential roads that the city took its time to clear and balancing my body and a backpack on two wooden sticks.

The absolute highlight of my miserable experience, however, was trying to take the TTC to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments.

First, the bus stops:  seldom adequately cleared for me to navigate safely from sidewalk to bus door.  Once on board, many people refused to offer me a seat when I blatantly needed one, and few TTC drivers cared to demand one on my behalf.  The elevators at Broadview frequently broke down.  Most stations were anything but disabled-friendly.  As a young twenty-something woman, I admittedly had not noticed until this experience just how poorly the TTC treats those of us with mobility issues.  Even escalators were frequently down, or only operated upwards on all units, leaving me to hobble down stairs, certain I was about to fall face-first.

Years later now, I am permanently disabled.  I have early stage arthritis in one knee, and said sprained ankle never fully recovered.  I regularly struggle to walk for long periods, and cannot stand for very long.  In my future, I know I will need services like Wheel Trans.  This is why I am so against worsening the crowded state of the TTC and cutting Wheel Trans under the deluded notion that the disabled somehow use the main system.

I commute daily during the rush hours of morning to school downtown.  I come from the east end.  Despite living a five-minute walk from a subway station, I take instead a bus to a streetcar, and my physical travel time increases ten to fifteen minutes each way.  I do this because I can get a seat on a streetcar this way, but on that subway, just a few stops from the end of the line, it’s debateable if I will get a seat to Bloor-Yonge, where I will wait up to ten minutes to squeeze into standing room to go southbound.  I cannot stand for half an hour, forty minutes each way physically, and due to crowding and apathy, no one will relinquish their seat for me.  I walk without aids, so my disability is not obvious; my age suggests health.

Having taken the TTC at all times of day, being a shift worker, I have experienced how ludicrous it is to suggest that disabled users reliant on an already shoddy Wheel Trans fold onto the main system.  There’s no room for a wheelchair, let alone people willing to give up seats.  Many stations do not have elevators, and many of those we have break down regularly.  We already cannot accommodate those who actually do take the main system, like myself.

Further, in all of these discussions, no one has remotely stopped to consider the impact on those with mental disabilities, such as social anxiety, claustrophobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  I have claustrophobia and frequently feel sick and anxious on the TTC at peak times, and my case is minor.  To increase crowding would be to effectively bar my usage of the system.  I shouldn’t have to take cabs or walk because public transit doesn’t give a damn about those in the public with disabilities.

Our population is aging, and mental illness rates are higher than most understand.  We should be working towards alleviating crowding, not worsening it.  We should be reducing wait time, not increasing them.  We should not be cancelling new trains and LRTs that would aid with crowding and be more accessible.  Ontario is currently pushing for more accessibility in voting; perhaps the city should be pushing for them to fund the TTC adequately instead.

I can only speak for myself, but I know that should crowding worsen, my ability to work and live in this city will be dramatically impaired.  I have the right to be treated equally.  Stop targeting me.

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A Survey For Canada…

I’d like to ask Canadians of all shapes and sizes the following questions.  You see, I’m having trouble reconciling the country I live in at the moment, and perhaps the answers will provide insight.  You’ll help, won’t you?  You know, because Canadians are known world-wide as friendly and helpful?

1.  If your son or daughter cheated in a scholarship contest for school – to the point of breaking the law – would you still be proud of his achievement?  Or would you chastise him for his lack of honesty?

2.  If your spouse said, “All of our combined money will be kept in one account, and only I can dictate how it’s spent – and you have no right to see the statements ever again,” would you be okay with this?  Would you be okay if he bought houses, cars and boats on your dime, mostly, completely disregarding things you need like clothing, medications and improvements to the house you actually reside in?

3.  Ladies only: If your father, husband and brother decided that, regardless of your wishes, you did not need access to birth control or abortion services, because marriage should, after all, be about procreation, would you be nonchalant about this?

4.  If your boss decided that he would cut funding to every department except his son’s, then rewarded his son for having the ability to make strong presentations, would you find this fair?  Or would you be pissed off?

5. If you noticed flagrant violations of policy at work, but every time you approached your superiors, you were suspended from work for attempting to speak up while the transgressors were given promotions, would you find this fair?

6.  If hospitals began triaging cases not on need, but on gross annual income, how would you feel, sitting in an ER with your impoverished father who’s living on a pension, after being told this?

7.  You receive a past due notice from the university your child is attending, indicating none of his tuition has been paid and he has been kicked out of his program.  When you ask him what happened to the $14K you gave him for school this year (because you have saved hard for years for this child to have an education), he says, “I went to Cuba, bought a car, saw the UFC – $800 seats, Mom and Dad! – and then, you know, I had to help out my buddies,” do you shrug and say, “Oh well, it was your money”?  Or do you lose your temper, especially because you’re legally on the hook, since he’s 17?

8.  If your sister was facing 67 criminal charges for which you knew she was guilty, would you be proud?  Would you encourage her to hang out with other criminals?

These seem like pretty crazy scenarios, I grant you, but I’m truly curious.  Most people I know, parents and non-parents of all political persuasions, would be unimpressed with all of these situations.  It’s logical to assume that none of these situations would seem fair or pleasant, nor would most parents (I should hope!) reward the behaviour of the children described above.

So why did you elect a Conservative majority last night?

The Harper Conservatives are guilty of all of the above, or have indicated they will do all of the above, if given half a chance – a ‘mandate’, as they like to call it, although, as with Rob Ford, 40% does not a majority of support make.  But 40% of you elected a party with these principles at its core.

I’m flabbergasted.  I’m embarrassed.  I’m fearful for the rights I currently enjoy as a citizen, let alone a bisexual, childfree female.

Harper’s MPs are encouraging the religious right to continue to push for control of MY uterus.  Harper himself thinks I should have no right to fund the party I care about.  Of course he thinks this: only his party is backed by the rich; he doesn’t need public subsidies, like the Greens do.  Harper thinks the Canada Health Act – the very thing Obama has been pointing to as he’s worked for a more universal health care system across the border – should be scrapped.  Health care shouldn’t be a Federal bother, you see; he also thinks we should pay for it privately.  Have none of you seen what’s been going on for decades in the States?

Harper is a criminal, and his government was the first to be found in contempt of Parliament – a first among the DOZENS of Commonwealth nations and their collective political history – for hiding what he wants to do with the tax money YOU have paid into running this country.  He wants to take away your rights to see the proverbial bank statement; now that he isn’t castrated by holding a minority, he can do just that.

The saddest thing is, I’d say 25% of Harper voters last night did so just because they are ‘sick of elections’.  Meanwhile, people are dying for a chance to have a right to vote in the first place, a vote that is actually counted.  These countries are shaking their heads at you, today, as am I. Harper’s refusal to cooperate with other parties has finally paid off for him; he’s manipulated you into no longer giving a damn who runs things, as long as no one troubles you with the details.

25% of the remaining voters are ‘punishing’ Dalton McGuinty in Ontario or are afraid of the NDP 20 years later.  Ontario, do you not remember Mike Harris?  Why do you think McGuinty has raised the taxes he has?  He’s been cleaning up the disaster Harris left us, between the megacity merge, downloaded items onto the municipal budget that forced David Miller into difficult decisions, and never mind dramatic rises in tuition and a disregard for health care and the poor.  Harper wants to download even more items onto the provincial dwindling coffers; if you think he will somehow save you taxes and money, think again, because the provinces will simply increase their share of the invoice.  That $400 health tax – which, by the way, many Canadians only pay a partial amount of, as it’s scaled to income – is going to seem like pennies four years from now. All because you fear a man who was always Liberal at heart (hell, look at the riding he’s holding right now in Toronto, Ontario!).

Selfish, foolish fallacy has befallen our once great country.  When the piper comes calling in four years, remember this:  rebuilding rubble carries a far greater price than simple renovations, and either way, we pay the bill.

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