Via Appeal the Ruling

For Immediate Release

3 December, 2003

  • VIA Fights To Keep Disabled Off Trains
  • Collenette Betrays Disabled Community
  • Canadians will bear the costs
  • Disabled Community Outraged at VIA Appeal of CTA Order to Make Trains Accessible

Canadians with disabilities are wondering if it can get any worse. First we had to fight for our right to travel by train. After waiting three years for a positive ruling from the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) we are now told that VIA will appeal the ruling. Minister Collenette has promised repeatedly that these cars will be accessible but those have proven to be empty words. Now Canadians with disabilities face another lengthy and costly legal battle to ensure we can use the trains. At the end when we win VIA who is now retrofitting these same cars to meet Canadian safety standards will have to rip those cars apart again to make them accessible. Canadian taxpayers will pay again and again for VIA's mismanagement in purchasing unsafe and inaccessible passenger rail cars. "It cannot get more stupid than this, where is the commitment to accessible transportation?" said Pat Danforth Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Transportation Committee.

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities declared by the United Nations. Instead of celebrating achievements we must speak out about the creation of new barriers to our participation. "Canada is an ageing society, the need for greater accessibility is a fact, but instead we are moving backwards," said Eric Norman member of CCD's Transportation Committee. "Persons who use wheelchairs will not be able to travel on these trains, that is an outrage," said Norman.

CCD calls on all Canadians to send a message to Minister Collenette. We want our public transportation systems to be accessible, it is a necessity and it is a right. To do otherwise is to say to Canadians with disabilities, you are second-class citizens, your independence is of no importance to us, you should stay home and be thankful for whatever charity you might receive.

Canadians with disabilities eagerly await a "regime change" at the Department of Transport. The current inaction of the Minister and his Department is a disgrace.

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For More Information Contact:

Pat Danforth: 613-521-3400 Ext: 264 Eric Norman: 709-256-8630

David Baker: 416-533-0040 Ext: 222 Ron Ross: 807-935-2028

Laurie Beachell: 204-947-0303