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HandyDART union calls for emergency funds to avoid 'devastating' cutbacks during pandemic

Last Updated Apr 20, 2020 at 7:07 pm PDT

FILE -- A HandyDART driver working in Richmond has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to TransLink. (Courtesy TransLink)

Union representing HandyDART workers calls for emergency funding from the federal government

Union president argues without funding, cutbacks would be 'devastating' to the community relying on the service

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The union representing HandyDART workers is asking the federal government for emergency funding to make sure the transit service keeps operating during this pandemic.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 1724 President Mark Beeching says the service worries the possibility of layoffs is looming.

“We have not been given notice yet, having said that, we are very, very concerned that it could be coming around the corner,” he says.

HandyDART, which mainly serves older people and those with cognitive or physical disabilities, has already felt the impact of the pandemic as 150 casual workers for the company have already been affected.

Beeching says HandyDART is already operating at reduced service levels and worries deep cuts are coming.

“With the ageing population, demand was very difficult to maintain as it was and with cutbacks, it will be a devastating blow to that community,” he explains.

“HandyDART provides a lifeline for seniors and disabled people, it is integral to the health of our community.”

The federal government should ensure service levels can meet the growing demand, Beeching argues.

Meanwhile, Translink confirmed it was laying off 1,500 employees temporarily, as the transit company is losing millions during this pandemic.