Cancer patient says she's missing appointments because of bus strike
KITCHENER -- Talks continue between the Region of Waterloo and the union representing Grand River Transit employees.
Both sides have been sitting at the bargaining table since 11 a.m. Tuesday, but there's no word yet on how things have been going.
The strike has left thousands of riders scrambling, including a Cambridge woman with spinal cancer who says she's missed critical appointments.
As a wheelchair user, Mary Comeau normally relies on Mobility PLUS services to get to the hospital, but the service is only available during the strike to those with pre-scheduled dialysis appointments.
"I had cancer appointments, heart appointments, I can't even make, and their suggestion is to use the TaxiSCRIPs, but when you run out of them, you can't," she explains.
A TaxiSCRIP is a coupon book worth $60 that costs MobilityPLUS users $30.
Comeau is on a fixed income of $850 per month and spends $700 of that on rent, heat and hydro, and says she can't afford the coupon books.
Even if she could, she'd have to get herself to a bus terminal to get them, but sidewalk conditions keep her at home.
"How they plow and leave some of the snow on the sidewalk like that," she explains.
The Canadian Cancer Society offers volunteer rides to hospital.
Because they're run with volunteers' personal vehicles, there aren't any volunteers in the region that can accommodate Comeau's electric wheelchair.
"These are all private vehicles that people drive, so people are taking their own cars, SUVs, vans," says Tanya Nixon with the Canadian Cancer Society.
"We don't have any accessible vehicles."
In a statement to CTV News, Grand River Hospital says that it refers people to the CCS's services.
"In unique situations, our staff are able to provide taxi vouchers to support some patients," the statement says in part.
It takes three weeks for Comeau to book an appointment, time she can't afford.
"If I do not see the cancer doctor or anything like that, it can spread," she says.
The Canadian Cancer Society says that patients facing mobility issues can still give them a call to find out if other service providers may be able to help them out.