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Man who was denied medical priority boarding by B.C. Ferries will get a hearing

Roger Chin was denied priority boarding for a sold-out sailing in August 2019, despite being permitted access with a doctor鈥檚 note on previous sold-out sailings.
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A human rights complaint filed by a man who was denied priority medical boarding for a B.C. Ferries sailing will proceed to a hearing. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

A human rights complaint filed by a man who was denied priority medical boarding for a B.C. Ferries sailing will proceed to a hearing.

In the decision issued last month, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal outlined how Roger Chin was denied priority boarding for a sold-out sailing in August 2019, despite being permitted access with a doctor’s note on previous sold-out sailings.

The complaint was filed on the basis of discrimination based on Chin’s disabilities, which included a brain injury that made travel “very difficult, especially in the summer heat.” Chin had been making weekly trips between 91原创 Island and 91原创 for non-emergency medical appointments.

At the time, he was also using an oxygen tank, which only lasts four hours and limits the time he is able to spend travelling.

In 2019, B.C. Ferries had several programs to support accessibility for passengers. The travel assistance program offered subsidized or free transport for eligible people travelling for medical care, and a 50 per cent discount fare card for those needing medical escorts. Another program, called medical assured loading, provided priority to those seeking urgent medical care.

On Aug. 18, 2019, Chin went to the Departure Bay terminal in Nanaimo but was denied medical assured loading, even after showing his doctor’s note and a supporting travel assistance program form.

“The B.C. Ferries staff denied Mr. Chin assured loading because he did not have a medical assured loading letter issued by B.C. Ferries,” read the tribunal decision.

“Mr. Chin says that it was hot that day, and he could not wait for the next ferry. ”

After taking a few hours to recover, Chin travelled to the Duke Point terminal south of Nanaimo, where he showed the same documents and was put on the next sailing.

Tribunal vice-chair Devyn Cousineau noted in her decision that since the pandemic, B.C. Ferries had expanded their accessibility programs to include non-emergency travellers, but that alone did not fully address the remedies he sought, and ordered a hearing be scheduled.