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STL to provide accessible transportation to disabled women fleeing domestic violence

Terminus Montmorency
Terminus Montmorency, Société de transport de Laval. Photo: CNW Group/Société de transport de Laval

The Association Lavalloise du Transport Adapté (ALTA) and Société de transport de Laval (STL) announced a new initiative making it possible for disabled women who are victims of domestic violence to use accessible transit services free of charge, with no registration required. The arrangement, which comes into effect on May 31, is a first in Quebec.

The project began in spring 2019 with the creation of a task force made up of women working for the following organizations: Table de concertation de Laval en condition féminine (TCLCF), Société de Transport de Laval (STL), Regroupement des Organismes pour la Promotion des Personnes Handicapées de Laval(ROPPHL), Lina’s Home, Maison le Prélude, Maison l’Esther, and the Association Lavalloise pour le Transport Adapté (ALTA). Evidence shows that 39% of women with functional limitations are likely to experience spousal violence, but they are underrepresented in shelters.1

“Domestic violence against disabled women is a serious issue, and given that transportation to shelters has been identified as a barrier, I am very proud that the STL is part of the solution. The initiative provides women and children fleeing domestic violence with an option that is free of charge, quick and easy to use,” says Éric Morasse, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Société de transport de Laval.

“We are proud to work with the City of Laval and support the project as part of the sectoral development agreement to promote gender equality in the region. The Secrétariat à la condition féminine has provided close to $100,000 in funding over two years to ensure the successful implementation of the project. This is a meaningful initiative developed jointly with a number of regional partners. The new project will enable women with disabilities to get out faster of abusive relationships and find their way to a shelter. Removing barriers for women who need to go seek help is a step in the right direction,” says Isabelle Charest, Minister for Education and Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

“The new approach is a community-driven solution to the pressing issue of domestic violence against women with disabilities. The City of Laval is pleased to be the launchpad for this initiative, which is the first of its kind in the province. Quebec’s disability awareness week is the perfect opportunity to spread awareness of the many barriers to inclusion and of the serious challenges disabled people are facing in their daily lives, even when they find themselves in abusive situations,” says Stéphane Boyer, Deputy Mayor.

The service is easy to use. Women can call any of the three shelters in Laval and the shelter then contacts the STL to book a ride without disclosing the victim’s name. Rides can be booked for the same day with a minimum of two hours’ notice. The drivers, who have experience working with people with functional limitations, are sensitive to the issue of domestic violence and will respect the women’s privacy.

The website can be accessed at www.fshlaval.ca as of June 15.

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