A Discount Program for Some MiWay Users Has Expanded

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Mississauga residents who struggle to afford transportation and other necessities might be happy to hear that a pilot program designed with them in mind is going to become permanent.

The City of Mississauga recently announced that General Committee directed staff to continue the MiWay Discount Transit Ticket Program with Mississauga food banks on an ongoing basis.

The program involves food banks providing food bank users with bus tickets that they can use to travel to and from their facilities.

Initially, the pilot program began in November 2016 with six food banks. In May, it was expanded to include all 18 of Mississauga's food banks and is currently set to conclude on Dec. 31.

"This program allows Mississauga food banks to purchase MiWay tickets at a 50 per cent discount with the City picking up the remainder of the cost," said Geoff Marinoff, director of transit. "It is helping provide affordable transit options for those that rely on transit to pick up their groceries and access other services."

To date, four of the 18 designated Mississauga food bank locations have purchased discounted MiWay tickets with the City's portion of the pilot program costing $7,500. For 2018, the projected cost of the program is $20,000.

The renewal of the program isn't surprisingly when considering how food bank use—and difficulties with managing the growing cost of living—is growing in Mississauga.

The Mississauga Food Bank recently kicked off its annual Thanksgiving campaign by releasing The Faces of Hunger report—a report that comes at a time when the Food Bank is reporting a 10 per cent increase in food bank use over the past year (an increase connected to a lack of adequate incomes in the city).

The Food Bank says 40 per cent of its client base is comprised of children (that’s a 27 per cent increase from 2015/16). Adults currently make up 52 per cent of clients (a seven per cent decrease), while seniors account for eight per cent (a 14 per cent increase).

In 2017, 94,370 residents have used the Food Bank’s services--up from 85,889 visits in 2016. The organization says that 43 per cent of clients were first time visitors.

As for what’s driving the change, the report indicates that inadequate wages are compelling people to seek help.

“As the cost of living increases, so does the need for emergency food in Mississauga,” the report reads. “The sixth largest city in Canada, Mississauga is home to over 721,599 people. Despite being a centre of industry and employment, the cold hand of poverty continues to grip many neighbours in the community.”

“Over the last year, The Mississauga Food Bank recorded over 207,000 visits to its programs - approximately 18,000 more visits than in 2016. This increase in volume can be linked to the primary challenge that continues to plague food bank clients year over year - inadequate income. And as the cost of housing, food, and utilities continue to rise, those struggling with hunger will find it even more difficult to cover basic living necessities.”

The continuation of the program will receive final approval during the Nov. 22 meeting of Council.

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