“It’s an incredible service,” says Shawville cancer patient
A service that gives Pontiac residents a ride to medical appointments needs more volunteer drivers.
“People really rely on this service,” says TransporAction Executive Director Sylvie Bertrand.
“Most of our clients don’t have access to a car. So, without a bus or a taxi to help them get where they need to go, they would miss their appointments.”
Funded by MRC Pontiac and the Ministère des Transports du Québec, TransporAction Pontiac is a public and paratransit service that connects residents in need of transportation with volunteer drivers. While residents use the service for a variety of reasons, its primary purpose is to make it possible for people to get to medical appointments.
According to Bertrand, the service offers an alternative to more traditional transportation networks, such as a pre-established bus route that might not be economically feasible in places with low population density.
Fees for the service vary but are subsidized by TransporAction Pontiac to keep them as affordable as possible.
“If somebody from Chapeau needs to go to Ottawa, for example, it costs them $25, back and forth,” Bertrand said.
TransporAction Pontiac currently has 56 volunteer drivers who Bertrand says are motivated primarily by a desire to help others within their communities and the enjoyment of socializing with the residents they drive.
To qualify, volunteers must have a valid driver’s licence and a clean criminal record check.
Volunteer drivers are reimbursed per kilometre driven, in accordance with the price of gas, as well as for any parking charges they incur.
While TransporAction is seeking volunteers across the Pontiac, it is especially in need of drivers for the areas of Rapides des Joachims, Chapeau, Portage du Fort, Shawville, Bristol, Quyon, Luskville and Breckenridge.
Barbara Woodland, who lives in Shawville is a cancer patient and doesn’t drive. Sometimes she has three of four medical appointments in a week. She has been using TransporAction since 2018 and says the service is invaluable.
“Its an incredible service,” Woodland said. “I know quite a few people who use it, and everybody has said the same thing, if they didn’t have TransporAction, they would miss their appointments.”
Woodland credits the service’s ease of use and accommodating volunteers as being fundamental to its success.
“As soon as I get my appointment, I call TransporAction right away and let them know when and where my appointment is. They come right to my door and pick me up and they wait for me at my appointment to bring me home,” Woodland said.
“A lot of times, my appointments will be scheduled last minute. I have called in the morning for an appointment in the afternoon, and TransporAction has made it work.”
“They are all volunteers, and every driver I have had since 2018, I couldn’t ask for nicer people. A lot of the time I will need help, and they are more than willing to help me out of the vehicle and stuff like that. Just incredible people,” added Woodland.
In addition to volunteer drivers, TransporAction Pontiac also has access to a fleet of paratransit vehicles that can accommodate wheelchairs. These include an adapted van and a minibus that, due to licencing requirements, are driven by a TransporAction Pontiac staff member.
Those interested in volunteering can contact TransporAction Pontiac at 819-648-2223 or visit their website at www.transporaction.com.
Pontiac August 10, 2023
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