In 2018, seniors who need transportation for medical appointments will be left to fend for themselves everywhere in the province of Quebec


For the Municipality of Pontiac this means:

  • 60 users affected

  • 1500 travels per year

It will be on the next municipal council agenda.

Cantley, Thursday June 29th, 2017 – The Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable is shocked at the decision of the Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité Durable et de l’Électrification des Transports du Québec to stop financing transportation provided by volunteers everywhere in the province of Quebec from 2018.

Volunteer community transportation services are not only an alternative to public transportation or taxi services, in regions where these services are not available, but are
above all a personalized method of accompaniment for medical appointments. Volunteer drivers pick up clients at their homes, take them to their appointment(s), wait for the client, and drive them back home. Often drivers help their clients get into wheelchairs, and help them to find their way around the medical institution. This presence allows the volunteer to develop a bond of trust with the client and therefore helps create a social security net for isolated people.

In rural Outaouais, four organisations provide volunteer community transportation services: Transcollines, TransporAction Pontiac, le Guichet unique des transports collectif et adapté de la Vallée-de-la-Gatineau and the Corporation des Transports Adapté et Collectif de Papineau. In total, annually, 40 000 trips are carried out in rural areas in the Outaouais.  In addition, public transportation and taxi services are extremely limited, if non-existent in the MRCs of the Outaouais, with the exception of des Collines-de-l’Outaouais. However, despite the existence of public transportation in des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, transportation by volunteers remains essential in its territory to address specific needs.

In its most recent “programme d’aide au développement du transport collectif “, the Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité Durable et de l’Électrification des Transports du
Québec writes that: “ The year 2017 will be the last in which it will be allowed to use subsidies to cover a part of the travel expenses related to transportation provided by volunteers.”1 The fact of the matter is this decision will effectively lead to the closing of services in most of the affected organizations.

Carl Hager, volunteer for Transport’Action Pontiac and a member of Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable’s board explains : “The clients of TransporAction Pontiac do not live on the major trunk line of the region, that is route 148. Often they live kilometres off this trunk line. Their needs can range from 6am surgeries at the major hospitals in Gatineau to late afternoon medical appointments. Most of our clients, being seniors, have mobility problems, difficulty with walking, and medical conditions in general. Making them get to wait at a standardized bus stop (even if they existed in our region!) is not a practical nor a hospitable option. In addition, because appointments can occur in all hours of the day, a “regular” bus service would be extremely inefficient and unprofitable.”

Marie-Pierre Drolet, director at Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable is also worried : “We know that many geographically isolated seniors will not have access to essential medical treatments, because of a lack of transportation options to get there. Consequences will be tragic!”

Furthermore, Benoit Legros, planning manager at Transcollines explains: “In our opinion, this decision is based on two misunderstandings. Firstly, that there is unfair competition for taxi drivers when, in reality, with the low density of population here, taxi companies can’t be profitable. The proof of this fact is in the number of unclaimed taxi licenses. The second issue comes from a misunderstanding about what constitutes public transportation. For us, transportation by volunteers in their own cars is an alternative method to the individual driving themselves and consequently should be considered as a public transportation system. And yet they tell us that there’s an obligation to have fixed routes and schedules for public transportation. And yet even large cities are considering changing their services to be more flexible. In rural areas with really low population density, we need to be creative to reduce isolation in the communities.”

Consequently, Des Collines Seniors’ Roundtable is asking the Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité Durable et de l’Électrification des Transports du Québec to reconsider its decision to stop funding this program, in order to take account of the rural and isolated context of its affected clientele which is particularly at-risk.

For further information :
Marie-Pierre Drolet
Director, Table autonome des aînés des Collines
(819) 457-9191 ext 241

Carl Hager
Volunteer for TransporAction Pontiac and
Member of la Table autonome des aînés des Collines’ board
(819) 458-2991

1 « L’année 2017 sera la dernière où il sera permis d’utiliser les aides financières reçues afin de couvrir une partie des frais de déplacement liés au transport effectué par des bénévoles. »
Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité Durable et de l’Électrification des Transports du Québec, « Programme d’aide au développement du transport collectif », p.13-15, Consulté sur internet le 28 juin 2017,