Nova Scotia

Transit strike affecting shelters, outreach centres

Some of the Halifax Regional Municipality's most vulnerable citizens say the Metro Transit strike is causing lots of hardship.

Some of the Halifax Regional Municipality's most vulnerable citizens say the Metro Transit strike is causing lots of hardship.

Michael Smith, a 31-year-old man with bipolar disorder, said he used to take the bus up to a dozen times each day to get to his medical appointments.

"It's a huge pain in my feet. I'm walking everywhere," Smith told CBC News.

"I had to take a cab last night so I don't have enough for a sandwich for lunch."

Smith said he is trying to get off social assistance, but the Metro Transit strike has already forced him to miss several shifts at his part-time job.

He's just one of approximately 55,000 Metro Transit commuters who have been left without bus or ferry service since more than 700 unionized members walked off the job on Feb. 2.

On Tuesday, Smith was at Saint Mary's Cathedral Basilica's outreach centre for a free salami sandwich before starting his one-hour walk home.

"There's probably eight or 10 regulars that — for whatever reason — are not here and haven't been here for the last week," said Art Mitchell, the deacon of Saint Mary's Cathedral Basilica.

Staff at the Presbyterian Church of Saint David on Brunswick Street said they noticed the same thing. About half of the people expected at a free supper last week didn't show up.

"Many of our regulars and some of the folks we expected simply off the street, they weren't here, they weren't able to get down here," said Rev. Kenn Stright.

Hope Cottage, a soup kitchen in Dartmouth, said they had been serving about 50 fewer hot meals each day since the beginning of January.

Ed Hollett, who works at Hope Cottage, said the strike certainly had not changed that trend.

"If I don't see them for a while, I worry," he said.

"It's just my nature. I care about them, I care about my job."

Arthur Neish, who walked from Dartmouth to Halifax so he could get a sandwich from the Saint Mary's Cathedral Basilica's outreach centre said he wasn't looking forward to the long walk to his next medical appointment.

He said he hoped it wouldn't be too cold that day.

"If it is, I'll need five jackets," said Neish.

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