Wheelchair taxi rules need more enforcement, says advocate
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities reacts to CBC I-Team investigation
Winnipeg taxi drivers frequently break safety rules when it comes to passengers in wheelchairs, says a disability-rights advocate who wants tougher rules and enforcement.
Jesse Turner, co-chair of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, said she wasn't surprised with the results of a CBC News I-Team investigation that found drivers were not securing wheelchair-bound passengers properly.
"There were many occasions where the drivers either wouldn't strap my chair in properly or they wouldn't put the shoulder-strap safety belt on me," Turner said.
With the help of a volunteer passenger, the I-Team captured hidden camera video from wheelchair van trips with three companies: Blueline, Unicity and Spring.
In all three cases, the taxi drivers did not follow Manitoba's safety regulations for transporting people in wheelchairs.
Drivers must ensure passengers' wheelchairs are secured to the vehicle at four points.
As well, the driver is supposed to offer the use of a shoulder strap to adult passengers and attach the strap if the passenger needs help.
The shoulder strap keeps the passenger from sliding off the wheelchair during the trip. Wheelchair taxi passengers under the age of 18 must wear a shoulder strap.
Two Winnipeg women have died following accidents involving wheelchair taxis, including Nancy Sikorski, who died last year after she fell out of her wheelchair in a taxi van.
Anne Woloshen's death in 1997 prompted the current provincial regulations.
But Turner said the legislation needs to be strengthened and the existing rules should be enforced.