Recipients of Ontario Works assistance will no longer receive free monthly Sault Transit passes.
City council decided this week to replace the free-ride arrangement with a half-price 'social equity' bus pass that will also be available to Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients
About 350,000 free bus rides had been provided under a partnership between the city and the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board (DSSMSSAB) that began in 2019.
But DSSMSSAB recently advised the city that changes to its employment services funding model make it unable to afford the $500,000 a year it's been paying to the city for free rides.
"These folks need to get on this bus perhaps more than the average folks," said Ward 3 Coun. Angela Caputo, who commended city staff for coming up with a way to at least provide half-price transportation.
Similar discounted passes are offered by at least seven municipalities in southern Ontario.
Brent Lamming, the city's director of community services, said the arrangement with DSSMSSAB for free passes expires in December.
City staff will check applicants for the new social equity passes to ensure they're eligible.