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?
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?
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?
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?
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.