One Of The Legacies Of The Late Ward 1 Councillor, Jim Tovey

According to Statistics Canada, the second largest expense for the average Canadian household is transportation (after shelter).  And for the less fortunate among us—especially those that rely on food banks—going to work or getting groceries using public transit often means having to forgo some other necessities.

In Mississauga, the city council established a support program in which food banks can buy transit tickets at half price and distribute them to those who need them.  The idea was the brainchild of Jim Tovey, Councillor for Ward 1 who sadly passed away on January 15.

While other cities have low-income transit fare programs in place, Mississauga is among the very few that allows food banks to buy and distribute cut-rate tickets. For a small cost to the city, this program allows recipients more freedom to get to work, take home food-bank provisions home, or visit family and friends.

Mississauga’s discount-ticket idea was a pilot project in 2016, and was recently adopted on permanent basis.  According to the city of Mississauga, the four food banks participating in the pilot project bought about 5,000 tickets over the last 10 months. The cost for these tickets – $15,087 – was split between the city and the food banks.

At the core of the discount ticket idea is doing more with scarce funding. In an interview with the Globe and Mail earlier in January, Councillor Jim Tovey, the main proponent of the program, recalled getting the idea from listening to one food bank worrying about the money they were spending on transit tickets for their clients.

“I thought, that [money] they could be spending on food,” Tovey said.  Leaving the decision on the distribution of the tickets to food banks also made sense to him.  “We trust these people to feed our most vulnerable citizens. Don’t you think we can trust them with tickets?”

On its Facebook earlier in January the Compass Food Bank said:  “We are so grateful for the half price transit ticket program made available by the City of Mississauga to food banks. Affording transit is a real issue for our clients. Thanks Jim Tovey — we appreciate all your help. This is another example of how we use financial donations — buying half price transit tickets for clients adds real value.”