“Making us feel like horrible people”

Sunny Days Camp campers and supervisors board a MiWay bus on August 4. One of the camp organizers said the group encountered hostility from a public transport operator when they tried to use special tickets.
  • A Mississauga spokesperson said the city is investigating the reported incident involving the children's camp.

A “just awful” MiWay transit experience almost ruined a recent outing in Mississauga for children with special needs, according to an organizer from a local epilepsy charity.

Trevor Gordon of Epilepsy South Central Ontario said the charity’s Sunny Days Camp is venturing to Square One for an outing on Thursday, August 4. When he boarded a city bus and tried to use MiWay’s special use tickets for campers, the driver became hostile, scaring off some of the children.

“It wasn’t just that he was rude,” Gordon says. “It was kind of like he had a shotgun outside his house, like, get off my lawn. That’s the best way I can explain it.

The group was on their way to a Build-A-Bear session at the mall, which involves creating personalized teddy bears, a journey that Gordon says children and young people, many of whom have epilepsy, were excited about.

The city launched the special-use ticket program in 2019 and offers discounted MiWay paper tickets for eligible groups, including schools and initiatives with special needs.

Without a Presto pass, cash fares for MiWay are $4 for children, youth, adults, and seniors.

The special tickets were eventually accepted and the campers boarded the bus and had a great time at Build-A-Bear, despite the MiWay interaction, Gordon says.

He says he thinks the bus driver either didn’t know what the special-use tickets were or was suspicious of the legitimacy of campers using the discounted passes.

“He just made us feel like we were horrible people for getting those tickets,” Gordon says.

In a statement, City of Mississauga spokesperson Bryen Fulcher said the city is investigating the incident and that MiWay drivers are trained to be “professional and respectful” and to use pay-as-you-go tickets. special.

“We are very disappointed to hear about the group’s reported experience as our goal is to provide consistent and excellent customer service to all passengers,” she said, adding that the city will “address the issue with the driver “.

Epilepsy is a condition that produces unusual electrical activity in the brain which, if left unchecked, can cause seizures lasting from seconds to minutes. If left untreated, seizures can become more severe and occur more frequently.

It is also considered an invisible disability by some defenders as the condition often only presents itself during a crisis.

According to the organization, Sunny Days Epilepsy Camp South Central Ontario is a weekly day camp for children with epilepsy and their siblings. Camp participants are between 5 and 14 years old.

Gordon says he has no problem with MiWay and that a transit staff member helped him get the special tickets a week before the Aug. 4 trip, and wonders if the bus operator did not recognize the children’s disability.

He says part of the reason he came forward is to raise awareness about the special use ticket program.

“As an epilepsy organization we are hesitant to use these tickets as we don’t want to be treated the way we have been.”

The latest figures available from Health Canada estimate that approximately 300,000 Canadians suffer from epilepsy, including 42,000 children and youth.

According to a 2011 survey by Statistics Canada, 39% of people with epilepsy reported having negative feelings about interactions with others as a result of the condition, including a quarter of respondents who reported feeling embarrassed by illness.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When we heard of a local charity with special needs saying they had a negative experience on MiWay, we wanted to dig into what happened and see if the city ​​was investigating the incident.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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