City launching program to transport seniors, vulnerable Toronto residents to vaccine appointments
Published Wednesday, March 24, 2021 11:40AM EDT
The city is launching a pilot program to help transport vulnerable Toronto residents and seniors to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
During a news conference on Wednesday morning, the city announced details of its Vaccine Equity Transportation Plan, which aims to reduce transportation barriers for those in the city who face challenges getting to vaccination clinics.
According to the city, the program will be available to eligible residents who have limited transportation options or who cannot afford transportation to appointments.
“Starting March 29, the city is piloting transportation options for seniors aged 75 years of age and over by extending service hours for assisted ride services provided by community organizations,” Mayor John Tory said at city hall on Wednesday morning.
“We’ve been working with multiple partners to plan and deliver this program, including Toronto Ride, iRide, Scarborough Ride, Ontario Health Partners, Uber Canada, and the TTC.”
The city said Uber Canada is providing a $150,000 donation in the form of voucher codes and the codes will be sent out to a network of community partner organizations, which will in turn distribute them to those who are eligible for rides to vaccination appointments starting on April 6.
The TTC will provide 15,000 ride vouchers through partner agencies beginning in April. The transit agency is also working to finalize plans to offer a shuttle bus service from Finch Station to the city-run clinic at Mitchell Field Arena, which opens on March 29. The shuttles are expected to run every thirty minutes for the first three weeks as part of a trial period.
Funding has been provided by the city to Toronto Ride, iRide, and Scarborough Ride, which will also transport residents to vaccination clinics. While a limited number of appointments are currently available, more are expected in the coming weeks, the city said. Information on how to book these rides can be found on the City of Toronto’s website.
Plans are in the works to expand the program in the coming weeks to include people with disabilities, seniors under 75 years old, and others who are frail or have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“We know that not everyone has access to their own vehicle. We know that financial, mobility, and health issues may stop people from taking transit or even getting a ride to the vaccination clinic but those very same people must get vaccinated as well,” Tory said.
4th mass vaccination site opens
Today's transportation announcement comes as the city opened its fourth mass immunization clinic on Wednesday.
The Thorncliffe Park Community Hub vaccination clinic, which is staffed by employees at East Toronto Health Partners, officially opened this morning, offering vaccine doses to people ages 75 and older.
Mass vaccination sites have already opened at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Toronto Congress Centre, and Scarborough Town Centre and two more mass immunization clinics are set to open their doors in Toronto over the next two weeks.
Nearly 404,000 vaccine doses have now been administered in Toronto.
“We are the first and only health unit in Ontario to distribute more than 400,000 doses of vaccine,” Tory said on Wednesday.
“The next nearest health units are Peel and York Region, who have both distributed just over 100,000 doses. So it gives you some idea of the scale of what’s been done so far with more to come.”