MOTION 26 — ACCESS TO DRIVEABLE PROGRAM

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On Monday, February 27, Opposition Critic for Seniors, MLA Katrine Conroy led debate on a motion on the accessibility of DriveABLE and other functional driving evaluations. It was supported by MLA Michelle Mungall, along with MLAs Kathy Corrigan, Nicholas Simons,and Bill Routley . The motion passed. Click here to view the video transcript of Mungall’s speech, and see below for the written transcript.


DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(HANSARD)

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2012

Morning Sitting

M. Mungall: With this motion I think it’s important to start off recognizing that no one in this House is debating the importance of public safety. We are all on side with the importance of public safety, and at the end of the day we need to make sure our roads are safe.
But what we are debating is fairness, accessibility, transparency, accountability, and, frankly, the lack of it with the current Liberal administration of the DriveABLE program. My own opinion, based on my own research of the current status of DriveABLE and how it came to be in British Columbia, is it’s all quite questionable. The test itself does raise many, many questions.
I want to focus on the issue of access because that’s one of the biggest concerns for people in my constituency of Nelson-Creston. I’ve had many phone calls, e-mails and letters into my office from seniors living throughout my constituency expressing their concerns and the difficulty that they’ve had with the DriveABLE test.
 
Henry Ginter — his licence was revoked, and when he sought to make an appeal he was told that his doctor would have to provide compelling evidence. “Fair enough,” said Mr. Ginter. The only problem is that he’s one of the 2,000 orphan patients in the Creston Valley, so where is he going to go for a doctor’s note?
 
Mr. English, also from Creston, has had to fight for his independence because he cannot get the road test in Kelowna. It’s a five-hour drive from Creston. Ms. Terriff — she called my office to share the story of several seniors in the Creston Valley who are not able to get to Nelson for the DriveABLE computer test, which is an hour and a half away from where they live. They are afraid that if they fail they will, of course, not be able to get home and have to drive over Kootenay Pass, the highest point on the Olympic Torch Relay. No easy feat, driving over that pass.
 
There’s the story of Bob Sears, who is living in a remote area along Kootenay Lake. He was told to go to Kelowna in the middle of winter. It’s at least a five-hour drive from where he lives, along terrible winter roads, and to be dictated to that he has to make that drive in the winter is unconscionable. But on top of that, Mr. Sears was quite ill. He had to fight just to get his exam extended — still in the winter, of course — so that he can make that ten-hour drive, round trip, for a short test.
 
Just the other day I received in my office a letter from Heather Myers, and she’s telling me the story of her father who was tested. His doctor, mind you, said that he was in perfect health and in perfect driving capability and that there should be no reason for the test. But according to the rules, he does have to take it. “Fair enough,” said Mr. Myers.
 
He took the test. The administrators of that DriveABLE test told him that he did very well, but nonetheless, he was still told to do a road test. Lucky for Mr. Myers that he was able to do a test on the random day that it was available in Nelson.
Well, according to him he only made two mistakes, one of which was at a very tricky intersection in Nelson. Mr. Speaker, if you ever get the chance to drive around Nelson, you’ll note that many of our intersections are quite difficult. Anybody of any age has had trouble with this particular intersection. So it’s not uncommon, and I think that’s a fair point to make.
 
The second mistake, according to Orvil, was that when he was parked at the mall, which is one of the few flat places in Nelson, he didn’t put up the e-brake. These were the two mistakes he made, and as a result he lost his licence. His daughter now states that she finds DriveABLE totally non-transparent and completely unaccountable.
 
That is exactly what we’re talking about with this motion. We’re talking about the need for accessibility and for accountability with this type of driving test so that public safety is maintained and it’s maintained in a fair way. I myself have written to the minister on this very issue, and I hope that she takes it with the level of seriousness that we have presented in this House today.