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Toronto transit union calls for free transit for Canadian war veterans

November 20, 2009

From CNW – The leader of the union that represents over 9,000 Toronto Transit Commission workers called for a program of free transit passes for veterans of World War II and the Korean War.

Bob Kinnear, president of Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Workers, will tell a meeting of TTC Commissioners this afternoon that this small gesture of gratitude for war veterans who are nearing the end of their lives is long overdue. “Let’s not keep them waiting any longer,” he will tell the Commission. “Let’s start waving them past the fare box with a ‘Thank you for your service.'”

While this proposal comes to the same meeting that a fare increase in being proposed to make up for a failure of governments to properly fund public transit, Kinnear says that his union thinks it is “inappropriate” to ask how much free transit for war vets would cost.

“When our fellow citizens answered the call of duty so many years ago, did they ask: ‘What’s this going to cost me?’ Did they ask the government to conduct a study to determine their chances of being killed or maimed for life? Or the cost of their long absences to their families, who waited in fear of receiving news of their deaths? Or the cost of their service to their future careers, presuming they had a future? No, they didn’t ask these questions and it would be shameful for anyone to now ask what it would cost to give them a seat on the bus.”

Guelph, Ontario is the only Canadian city the union could find that gives year-round free transit to veterans from World War II or the Korean War. Many Canadian cities give vets free transit on Remembrance Day . Toronto also gives veterans free rides on Warriors’ Day during the CNE.

“We can do better than that, and we should,” Kinnear says. “Whatever the cost of the union’s proposal, we know it is a steadily declining cost that will eventually disappear. Let’s do this today.”

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