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Dear Editor,
There will be a Special Meeting on Transit this Friday, January 7th. Council is not offering any opportunity for public input. But if they had, I would have submitted the following for their consideration:

While I think it’s a prudent idea for City Staff to be precautious, it’s pretty rich that the same people who have chosen to work remotely are forcing essential workers who cannot afford private transportation to tolerate this easily avoidable risk of transmission.

The fact that Bus Riders are being expected to tolerate risks that City Staff & Councillors are not being expected to tolerate indicates very clear socioeconomic discrimination. Especially since the risk can be so easily mitigated with the simple act of wearing of a mask, something almost all other Bus Drivers in the world are doing right now.

As if that weren’t enough reason to right this wrong, this is also an Accessibility Issue. If the City wants to increase ridership, they should provide a safe space for people to travel in – as basically every other city in Ontario is doing right now.

One argument City Staff keep repeating is that Owen Sound Bus Drivers say it’s unsafe to wear masks because it fogs up their glasses. Thousands of bus drivers across the world are doing it without issue – Owen Sound drivers are no different, and should not be forcing passengers to be exposed to them during their essential commutes.

Nobody is riding the bus for fun these days – especially in Owen Sound where Bus Drivers are not providing safe spaces, in environments where the air is circulating. Health Canada, as well as the WHO confirm that this highly contagious virus transmits through the air. Now is the time to right this wrong, and Council’s reluctance to act demonstrates socioeconomic discrimination, and at the least a failure on accessibility policies.

If Council wants to improve Transit, start with requiring Drivers to wear masks during a pandemic.

All the best,
Tamara Sargent, Owen Sound




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