As an organization that was advocating for this initiative, the Ottawa Food Bank is happy to hear a low-income transit pass was approved in the City of Ottawa’s 2017 draft budget. The pass will cost $57, half the price of an adult pass, which will cost $113.75 in the new year.
This transit pass, dubbed the EquiPass, will be available to an estimated 4,700 people who currently pay full price for their adult pass.
[blockquote]“A single person using the EquiPass will save $56 each month, or about $672 each year,” said Mayor Jim Watson at today’s announcement. “Leaving more money available for other basic necessities such as food, clothing and accommodations”.[/blockquote]
People who turn to the Ottawa Food Bank for assistance often spend resources on transit, instead of purchasing food. Limited access to transportation also restricts families from buying more nutritious food as they are unable to travel to grocery stores, limiting them to food choices such as fast food restaurants and convenience stores.
[blockquote]“We think there is a direct correlation between transportation costs and food insecurity,” said Michael Maidment, executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank. “Families are spending money on transportation to get to work, school, or medical appointments that would otherwise have been used to purchase food”.[/blockquote]
The reality is people are going without food, purchasing cheap and often less nutritious food, or are turning to food banks to make up for this short fall.
[blockquote]“The EquiPass is a welcomed addition to the city’s ongoing commitment to ensuring transit is affordable for everyone,” added Maidment.[/blockquote]
The low-income transit pass, in combination with increasing the availability of affordable housing, introducing a basic income program, and improving social assistance rates will have a measured impact on poverty and the number of people turning to the Ottawa Food Bank for food.
The EquiPass will cost the budget an estimated $2.2 million annually and will be introduced by OC Transpo in April 2017.