Transit tickets in Ottawa are going up in price. For many of us, this is a mild annoyance; maybe it means that we spend the few extra dollars on riding the bus instead of buying a cup of coffee. But for someone struggling to overcome barriers to employment, such as a mental illness or a disability, this could have much more serious impacts.
The city’s new low-income bus pass is a wonderful step toward alleviating some of this stress, but it can’t entirely eliminate it—the upfront costs of the pass will push it out of reach of some clients, and it doesn’t help people who ride the bus sporadically. An estimated $10,000 is needed this year to pay for bus tickets in order to meet the ongoing demands from our clients. This is why Causeway was so grateful to receive an $1,000 grant from the May Court Club of Ottawa to provide bus tickets to some of our clients.
Causeway Work Centre sees the effect of high public transit costs on a daily basis. The rising cost means an increasing number of Causeway clients simply cannot afford to take public transit. These clients are people who already face additional challenges when finding and keeping a job, including anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Empowering Clients Along the Ride
Causeway’s employment support specialists find employment opportunities, help individuals improve their resumes and interview skills, accompany clients to job fairs, and provide support once clients are employed. Above all, Causeway’s focus is empowerment. We believe that all individuals should be supported to make their own choices and lead fulfilling lives. Part of this involves the ability to move freely around the city, and that is where public transit comes into play.
Causeway client, Timothy, knows how helpful donated bus tickets can be. Timothy was headed to an important job fair with his Employment Support Specialist, Kristy-Lu Desrosiers to learn about jobs in his chosen field, tourism and hospitality, when he realized he didn’t have any bus tickets. Kristy-Lu was able to provide him with some so he wasn’t held back from attending this important part of his job hunt. Timothy has since had a number of interviews that he has also been able to attend because of the bus tickets Causeway provided.
Donated bus tickets are generally reserved for urgent needs. For example, bus tickets are distributed to help clients drop off resumes, attend job fairs or interviews, and get to work in the weeks before they receive their first paycheque. This leaves little room to help clients attend regular appointments with their employment support specialists, which are a crucial step in helping clients get past challenges that have traditionally kept them from finding and keeping jobs.
“Appointments with the Employment Support Specialists are so important; they’re where so much of the work actually gets done in helping clients achieve their goals in finding jobs.” –Margarita Alfonso, Employment Team Lead
Causeway urgently needs additional funding for transit tickets to help clients get to these essential appointments. To meet the need of our clients, we’ve introduced a Bus Tickets for a Client campaign. This allows donors to designate their donation toward bus tickets for Causeway clients for a suggested donation amount of $10.20 which purchases six bus tickets, equaling three round-trip excursions for clients. As the need is ongoing, we also encourage monthly donations wherever possible.
We all feel the pain when transit costs rise, so it’s easy to understand the stress this might cause someone when trying to overcome challenges related to employment. With bus tickets in hand, Causeway clients can move forward in accessing care, finding rewarding jobs, and, ultimately, gaining independence.
Causeway offers its sincere thanks to the May Court Club for their contribution.