Long-established service drives community satisfaction

Darius Shahheydari
Campbell’s bay March 11, 2020
Located off the 148 in Campbell’s Bay, TransporAction has become one of the region’s leading transport services since it was founded in 2004.
Harry Gow founded the organization. Today, it has grown to service two adapted vans, three minivans and a cargo van. Robert Dupuis became the director in 2006. Sylvie Bertrand also started working for the firm that year for accounts payable and dispatch.
In 2006, they had a few volunteer drivers to service only medical appointments. Drivers worked with their own cars and they were reimbursed a certain amount for mileage.
Dupuis retired in 2012 and Bertrand took over the director position, making some significant changes in the company’s services.
Bertrand evolved the aspect of rides for “social needs”. A special grant she received that year allowed for this service and plans were made at the time to continue it when the money was used up.
For this to be possible, social needs clients were booked for “double-riding”. This meant that the client would ride with another client that booked a visit for medical appointments.
Social needs include taking people to get medical cards, appointments to fill out income tax forms and doing groceries.
These clients were considered under the “collective sector”. This sector includes all other clients that do not fall under the “adaptive sector”.
The adaptive sector provides special vehicles, like vans, for people with handicaps including those in wheelchairs or with mental disabilities.
“Every year, you could see the service growing,” said Bertrand. “People were demanding more.”
While the collective sector includes volunteer drivers, the adaptive sector’s drivers are paid. They are paid by another company, Transport Communautaire, which has their office in the same building as TransporAction. Transport Communautaire is paid by TransporAction for each adaptive trip. Paid drivers are only allowed to be hired under Transport Comunnitaire’s name.
Calls for medical services are unlimited and clients can call to book a trip anytime. There is a limit of three trips a week for any other services.
Cancer treatment is an exception. Since the demand is too high, it is limited to three trips a week. If the client needs to attend more treatments during the week, they may be able to book a double-riding with another client going for a medical appointment.
“We look at our agenda and if we can do it, we do it,” said Bertrand.
TransporAction also receives funding to take clients on outings. For example, seniors are brought to day centres for activities on a daily basis.
This agreement was made with the Centre integre de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO), whom TransporAction charges for the service. CISSSO provides the company with a list of seniors that will be taken on each outing.
These beneficiaries are dropped off before the day centres open and picked up just after they close. Each day of the week offers its own location for the activities.
“One day it’s in Chapeau, one day it’s in Luskville, one day it’s in [Fort] Coulonge,” said Bertrand.
TransporAction services 18 municipalities of MRC Pontiac. Although the Municipality of Pontiac is not within their territory, they also cover it. An agreement with La Pêche takes the responsibility off the municipality’s shoulders for a fee.
On their website, one of the company’s messages is to “meet the unmet needs”. According to Bertrand, this means that if they cannot provide a demanded service, they will make sure someone else can.
Sometimes, TransporAction may not have enough vehicles to service the high demand. If it’s a matter of a collective service for a group of people, they will call the local bus company Autobus La Salle to pick them up. Taxi companies are also sometimes called up to provide rides. TransporAction then reimburses these separate entities.
“We try and work with all kinds of transportation that’s on the territory,” said Bertrand.
Pricing is flexible at TransporAction. Fees are generally based on mileage, but the highest fee a client may be charged is $25, regardless of how far they are traveling.
Clients may also be eligible for discounts if they meet certain criteria. If the person is over 65, on social aid or does not own a personal vehicle, they are charged a smaller fee. Likewise, if someone is deemed unable to drive by a doctor for a certain period of time, they are able to benefit from the services at a reduced fee for the time being.
Cancer treatment and dialysis patients are also charged less.
These clients have $0.48 a kilometre deducted from their ride - the amount that the volunteer drivers are reimbursed for mileage.
The volunteer’s trip to and from the client’s home is also reimbursed. They receive their money back weekly.
Ray Ferland is an experienced volunteer driver for Transporaction. After retiring from the Bata shoe company in 2001, he has volunteered for TansporAction since its establishment in 2004.
Having seen an ad in THE EQUITY about TransporAction searching for drivers, Ferland came on board because he had plenty of free time around the house.
“I didn’t have anything else to do,” he said.
Ferland started volunteering because he wanted to help people who need to be transported in a place where public transportation is very limited. He thought it would be nice to help a couple of times a week.
He helps put his clients’ belongings in the trunk whenever he can.
“It’s all people [who] need your help and if you’re not there, they’ll suffer,” he said.
A schedule is given to him a couple of days before his first pick-up. Volunteers are in charge of informing the customers who they are and what time they will be picking them up. They also ask if the clients are ok with the schedule.
Being a volunteer, this schedule is very flexible.
“We are allowed to say ‘No, I want the rest of the week off,’” he said.
As for his timeliness, Ferland knows how to never be late for a pick-up.
“I never had any delays because I’d rather be there an hour earlier than [later]” he said.
As for dropping clients off on time, Ferland says the lack of congestion in the area, even around the urban cores, helps a lot.
“Usually there’s no traffic to go into Gatineau or Ottawa,” he said.
Ferland also becomes a de facto therapist on a daily basis when he is volunteering.
“People like to talk and tell me their problems,” he said. “I guess it makes them feel good to express themselves, it makes them feel relief.”
He keeps those stories between him and his riders, however.
“What’s in this car stays in this car,” he said.
The volunteer recommends that others join the team, but they have to devote their time and not expect a weekly paycheck.
“It does not cost you anything, the only thing it costs you is you,” he said.

 

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