If council approves these changes when will they come into effect?

    Time is needed to implement these changes. The earliest these changes can be implemented is January, 2020.

    How will these changes affect those who are now receiving senior and youth discounts?

    If the recommended option comes into effect, all individuals with low incomes will need to apply through the Municipal Fee Assistance Program (MFAP) to access a discount. Those who have been receiving a discount, but who have an income above the set income threshold, will pay the adult rate for the programs and services they wish to access. If age-based discounts continue, the discounted fares will be adjusted to the approved level.

    What will this mean for other discount programs, like the welcome passes for newcomers?

    There will continue to be promotional and other programs available, like the welcome passes. The proposed changes are strictly to expand and improve the MFAP program and to eliminate the age-based discounts for youth and seniors.

    If the application to receive discounts becomes an online process, what options would be available for people who don’t or can’t use a computer?

    Some people may not have access to a computer or be comfortable applying this way. Paper and in-person application options will remain available. In addition, the City will work with its many community partners to ensure that they are able to help their clients with the application process.

    What does the term “median” income mean?

    The median income is the level that splits the population in two equal parts with the same number of people above the median as there are below For example, the median after-tax household income for an individual in 2016 was $31,772. That means that the same number of people earned more than that number as earned less than that number.

    What is the difference between the Low Income Measure (LIM) and the Low Income Cut-off? Is one better than the other?

    These three measures are calculated differently and are all considered income thresholds. While none should be considered a “poverty line”, LIM and LICO are commonly used to identify households considered to have “low income” compared to the rest of those in a community. LIM15 is a newer threshold that recognizes those in the population that are working but not earning enough to cover the costs of living.

    While all measures have advantages and disadvantages, information on LIM is more readily available annually and allows for provincial comparisons.


    The LIM represents 50 per cent of median household income and is adjusted based on a family’s size. It is easy to calculate and explain. The Government of Ontario is using LIM as a measure to track the success of its poverty reduction strategy. It is also the measure used annually to assess low income by Revenue Canada based on income tax data.


    This is calculated locally by taking the annual LIM income levels and adjusting them upwards by 15%. York Region currently uses LIM15 for their transit discount program, it is being considered in the Fair Pass program in Toronto and the Province uses it for their energy programs.


    The LICO is the oldest measure of income and measures the level at which a family is spending 63.6 per cent or more of its income on food, shelter and clothing. There are 35 different LICO to reflect family and community sizes. It is criticized for not being adjusted to reflect changing spending patterns since 1992.

    Does the City believe that people who are living above the income threshold are not living in poverty?

    None of the many poverty measures should be looked at as a poverty “line.” Once a person’s income is above the threshold, it does not mean necessarily that the person is “out” of poverty. However, a threshold must be chosen to use as a determining factor for income eligibility.

    Why is the City simply looking at income levels to determine eligibility? Aren’t there other things that can affect whether a program is affordable?

    Absolutely, income is only one aspect of affordability. However, MFAP was set up to have an intake process that was straight forward and took a “one window” approach. This means that those applying only need to share their income information once annually to be deemed eligible for discounts for a range of City programs and services. Implementing a more complex system of “means testing” and looking at someone’s expenses as well as their income would be more time consuming and require more documentation. All levels of government are moving toward simplifying application processes and using strictly income tax information to assess eligibility.

    How does Kingston compare to other communities in terms of income?

    In the April report to Council on this topic, data was presented on four Ontario communities similar to Kingston in a number of ways: Whitby, Guelph, St. Catharine’s and Barrie. Kingston ranked third among the communities for median income levels, but had the highest median income for those over the age of 65. The median income of those over the age of 65 is close to the median income of the community as a whole. Kingston has a high level of public-service employment and this is reflected in the 73 per cent of those over the age of 65 with private pension income.

    Why did the City start giving discounts to seniors when they turned 65? Why change it now?

    Many communities started providing senior discounts back in the 1960s and 1970s. The initial reason for providing discounts was to assist the many seniors who lived in poverty. Provincial and federal governments’ public pension and income support programs have made a significant impact – almost eliminating poverty among seniors. In 1976, 31 per cent of all seniors in Ontario lived below the LICO. By 2014, only 3.5 per cent of Ontario seniors lived in poverty.

    The proposed changes will focus the discounts on those seniors and others who are living in poverty.

    Are other communities making these changes?

    Yes. The City of London is implemented a low-income transit program in January and is eliminated senior discounts for transit at the same time. The Toronto Transit Commission is considering eliminating the senior fare rates to help fund the “Fair Pass” program for those living in poverty.

    What happens if no changes are made? Would the City continue to provide discounts based on age?

    As our population ages, the cost of providing age-based discounts increases dramatically. If discounts continue, this could lead to higher property taxes and/or increased fees for those not eligible for discounts.

    Instead of raising the income threshold from LICO to LIM or LIM15, why not offer bigger discounts to those living below the LICO?

    Over the past several years, improvements have been made to provide those on Ontario Works with access to free monthly bus passes. Those on social assistance account for a large percentage of people living under the LICO. Raising the income level to LIM will allow those low income households not receiving benefits through social assistance, often referred to as “working poor,” to access discounts.

    If the recommended option is approved will there only be two fares for transit: a fare for those who have low incomes and a fare for everyone else?

    Kingston Transit will continue to have different fare options, but seniors will pay the same fare as adults under 65 years of age, unless they qualify for a low-income discount.

    If approved, will the changes apply to Kingston Access Bus?

    Yes, the cost of a low-income monthly pass is the same for Kingston Transit and Kingston Access Bus.