The cost of providing rides to seniors and others (for medical appointments, other appointments and shopping/entertainment) is very expensive, Frontenac Transportation Services administrator Gail Young told North Frontenac Council at its regular meeting last Friday in Plevna.
Young, along with Rural Frontenac Community Services director Louise Moody were there at Council’s request, which came at a previous Council meeting in Harlowe.
“Being raised in Henderson, I know the challenges,” Young said. “One of the big issues in this area is that the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) will only pay for the time the client is in the car so we have to pay for getting drivers to the client.
“We’re working on keeping those costs down.”
“Our problem is geography,” said Moody. “It’s a long way to anywhere and we don’t have a hub like say Bancroft does.
“We’re trying a number of different programs (a Trillium application in 2016 was unsuccessful).”
The average ride in South Frontenac costs $30. The average ride in Central Frontenac costs $55 but the average ride in North Frontenac costs $91.
With 301 rides from April 1 to Dec. 31, North Frontenac accounted for 7 per cent of the ridership. However, at a cost of $41,033, it also accounted for 16 per cent of the total costs. Central Frontenac had 2,511 rides or 56 per cent and 56 per cent of the costs at $140,144. South Frontenac had 1,709 rides or 37 per cent for $68,918 or 28 per cent of the costs.
“It is expensive but I know at least two elderly ladies who are too proud to ask for a subsidy,” said Coun. Gerry Martin.
“We don’t like to call it a subsidy, we say ‘you pay half,’” said Young.
“If the LHIN’s goal is for seniors to age at home, then these programs have to be free,” said Moody.
Mayor Ron Higgins made a friendly amendment to a resolution to publicize the service and call for volunteer drivers.
He also suggested the County could become involved but “if we’re going to ask the County for money then we have to include all four Townships.”
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North Frontenac formally passed its 2018 budget which is now available on the Township website. North Frontenac is asking its ratepayers for 1.42 per cent more than it did in 2017 or $5,765,957. Property assessment increased by 2.48 per cent and while the education portion of the tax bill decreased by 2.82 per cent, the County portion increased by 4.19 per cent.
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This was the first meeting in the new Council Chambers. It’s certainly larger than the room over the fire garage with more room for spectators, a larger municipality style horseshoe arrangement for Council and surprisingly good acoustics.