Single parent families once again eligible for Ontario Northland discount
'Why have a family discount if you're not going to apply it evenly and equally to everybody?'
Ontario Northland has changed the criteria for its family train discount on the Polar Bear Express line from Cochrane to Moosonee, Ont., after it was accused of discriminating against single-parents.
"It's discriminatory not to be able to apply for a family discount just because I'm a lone parent," Cheryl Tomatuk-Bagan said.
"Why have a family discount if you're not going to apply it evenly and equally to everybody?"
Tomatuk-Bagan is one of many single parents on the James Bay Coast in northern Ontario who became ineligible to get 20 per cent off Polar Bear Express tickets last summer.
Ontario Northland changed the wording of its family special to require that the family consist of a minimum of two adults instead of one adult and one child.
'Discounts can truly benefit single-parent families'
Tomatuk-Bagan spent months trying to get answers from the company.
At one point, she and Moose Cree First Nation councillor Gilbert Cheechoo Junior considered filing a human rights complaint.
"I, myself, was a single father at one point. I know how these discounts can truly benefit single-parent families," Cheechoo Junior said.
Once the winter ice road season is over, Cheechoo Junior noted that people living on the James Bay Coast can only go south by flying or taking the train.
'We've heard from our passengers'
Ontario Northland was trying to encourage passengers to purchase advanced tickets by altering its family deal, according to marketing and communication director Rebecca McGlynn.
But the revised discount did not get the response the company was looking for.
"We've heard from our passengers," McGlynn said.
"So we've updated it [family discount] to hopefully satisfy our passengers who are taking the train."
'Doesn't make any sense'
As of Monday, the family special gives 20 per cent off the regular adult fare when two adults or one adult and one child are travelling together.
McGlynn still encourages families to book their tickets two days in advance to receive bigger savings.
While Tomatuk-Bagan is happy about the change, she still has questions about why single-parents were left out before.
"That doesn't make any sense at all," Tomatuk-Bagan said.
"If you're going to have a family discount, it has to apply to everybody."