February 11, 2014 7:15 pm

Winnipegger wins human rights complaint against Handi-Transit

A Winnipeg senior with an intellectual disability has won a human rights complaint against Handi-Transit.

A Winnipeg senior with an intellectual disability has won a human rights complaint against Handi-Transit.

Jordan Pearn / Global News

WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg senior who lives with an intellectual disability has won a human rights complaint against Handi-Transit.

Ruth Dopson previously used the service to get to her job at a St. James workshop for people with disabilities.

In 2007, Handi-Transit, through the City of Winnipeg, changed how it prioritizes customers.

“They said I was a priority two instead of a priority one,” said Dopson.

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That meant the 71-year-old went from having a guaranteed ride every day to having to call and hope she would get one.

“I didn’t know if I had a ride or not to go to work and come home from work,” said Dopson.

Her advocates said that’s because she doesn’t have a full-time job paying at least minimum wage. Dopson makes $55 a week.

“It’s terribly ironic that Handi-Transit, who is supposed to provide service to people with disabilities, are discriminating against people with disabilities,” said Emily Ternette, who is advocating on behalf of Dopson.

A complaint was filed with Manitoba’s Human Rights Commission. Late last year, the provincial agency ruled Handi-Transit discriminated against people living in Manitoba’s supportive living programs by transferring them from priority one to priority two status.

“I feel like a million bucks,” said Dobson.

She was given an apology and a $2,000 cheque but Ternette said it isn’t enough.

“They haven’t made any changes,” said Ternette. “These people are still considered priority two.”

“The basis for the initial review was because some individuals utilizing Handi-Transit had eligibility for alternate transportation as part of the services they receive from the province,” the city said in a statement.

Dopson said her monthly pass for Handi-Transit was covered by the province. She now is taking a First Student Canada bus, also paid for by the province. Her advocates said the school bus is around an hour ride versus a 10 minute ride by Handi-Transit.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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