BC Transit is Using COVID Safety Precautions as An Excuse to Infringe the human Rights of Disabled People

By Lyle Attfield
June 22, 2020

I was denied access to the bus identified above because the driver refused to let me board citing COVID 19 related safety concerns.

I, an individual who requires a scooter for mobility, assured the driver that I was physically capable of securing myself without the driver’s assistance after the driver indicated that they were not comfortable securing my scooter due to the proximity and associated COVID 19 risks. The driver still refused to allow me to board the bus.

This treatment is deeply upsetting, entirely unacceptable, and a blatant violation of my basic human rights. The driver’s concern for their own safety is entirely unconvincing since I offered a reasonable and viable solution which would both have protected the driver and allowed me to board the bus and because there are 0 confirmed cases on ALL of Vancouver Island and there has not been a new case reported here since early May. The driver chose to deny me service in an unjustifiable and discriminatory manner.

Even more disturbing than the discrimination I experienced is the apparent disregard for people with disabilities that BC Transit has demonstrated since the pandemic began. I had a similar issue at the beginning of the pandemic where a driver did not want to let me on the bus due to their unwillingness to secure my scooter but they accepted that I could secure myself and allowed me on the bus. Following that incident, I called BC Transit and advised them that disabled people were getting refused service due to inadequate safety procedures. It has been 3 months and BC Transit has failed to take any steps to address these concerns.

Stats Canada estimated in 2018 that one in five Canadians aged 15 years or over live with one or more disabilities. BC Transit failed and continues to fail at contemplating adequate provisions for disabled people. BC Transit should have included disability advocates in conversations about emergency provisions at the onset of the health crisis. BC Transit should have addressed concerns expressed to them by disabled members of the public about accessibility and inclusion issues in their COVID response

After I was refused service by the BC Transit employee, I protested by blocking the bus. I was subsequently arrested and handcuffed by the RCMP. The RCMP are supposed to be responsible for investigating human rights violations and they are choosing to defend systemic injustices instead. These publicly funded institutions are accountable to us, the people. We are responsible for holding these institutions accountable. We must refuse to allow our public institutions to discriminate against disabled people with impunity.

Lyle Attfield

6929 Charval Pl.

Sooke BC. V9Z-0M7