Without increased funding to meet new government-driven cost pressures, school bus service interruptions likely in January 2018
August 31, 2017 – Toronto, Ontario – Ontario school bus operators have launched an appeal to parents to get their support for increased funding for school bus transportation in order to avoid service disruptions, which may begin in January if government action is not taken. The campaign is encouraging parents to contact Premier Kathleen Wynne via the website www.getourkidstoschool.ca.
“We support the government’s intention behind their minimum wage policy, but without a change to school bus transportation funding, and in an industry already facing driver retention challenges, this significant unexpected cost increase will have unintended consequences for student transportation across Ontario,” said Mark Begg, President of the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA). “They can raise minimum wage, but it is only responsible to ensure there is money in the system to pay for it.”
Begg added: “Parents depend on us. Our number one priority is ensuring kids across Ontario get to school and home safely. If action isn’t taken by January, operations in many areas may not be possible as the funding Ontario provides will be less than what it costs to deliver the service. We look forward to working with the Ontario government on a funding solution to ensure services run continuously throughout the 2017/18 school year.”
Busing contracts determine years in advance what school bus service providers are paid for ensuring kids get to school safely. Unlike other service providers, who can manage the new minimum wage by raising prices, school bus operators are bound by long term contracts that never contemplated the 22 percent wage increase now planned by the Wynne government for January 1, 2018, and a further increase in January 2019.
Over the years, government demands for school bus service providers have increased costs much faster than funding has risen, and now this latest cost increase has pushed the system to the brink of failure.
“Bus companies across Ontario are working tirelessly to give parents and schools reliable service as we start the new school year. We take our job very seriously and the last thing we want is an interruption. OSBA members are committed to working with school boards to notify parents of service interruptions as far in advance as possible,” said Begg.
About the Ontario School Bus Association
The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA), founded in 1951, is the premier association providing advocacy, education, legislative and regulatory services to the provincial school bus industry. Our school bus operator members own and operate 75% of all school purpose vehicles in Ontario. OSBA member partners include school bus operator service providers, school boards/transportation consortia and supplier/manufacturers. Together, the school bus industry maintains the highest safety record of all commercial vehicles on the road, according to Transport Canada.