Looks forward to working with government on long-term funding solution for student transportation
TORONTO, Dec. 15, 2017 /CNW/ - The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) has been working in collaboration with industry associations and the Ministry of Education to find a solution for the labour market challenges facing the student transportation sector. Today, the government announced a $60 million investment for the next three school terms to support the recruitment and retention of professional school bus drivers over the course of the minimum wage increases.
Unlike other service providers, who can manage the new minimum wage by raising prices, school bus operators are bound by long term contracts that did not include a 22 percent wage increase now planned by the Wynne government for January 1, 2018, and a further increase in January 2019. This unforeseen change adds to student transportation funding and procurement challenges over the last decade and puts the stability of the industry in jeopardy.
"OSBA appreciates that the provincial government has chosen to help our industry with $60 million to support driver retention," said Mark Begg, President of the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA). "While this funding will help our drivers in the industry, it falls short of what is needed to maintain the overall viability of the school bus industry over the next two years."
The Ministry of Education has confirmed that there is no separate allotment of funding to alleviate employer minimum wage increases, however, direct funding to school bus drivers will encourage driver retention and help reduce the need for ongoing and additional employer driver recruitment and training costs. The program will support eligible drivers through a payment of up to $3,000 before taxes.
The specifics are still being determined, however, it is expected that driver eligibility will be based on a measure of continuous employment during one or all of three periods between January to June 2018; September to December 2018; January to June 2019. Details are expected to be finalized and communicated no later than March 2018.
OSBA recognizes that this is a positive development for the issues plaguing the industry, however, Begg noted, "There is a definite need for additional funding in order to ensure service levels do not continue to decline. We will continue to advocate and work with our government partners for proper funding to ensure student transportation remains the safest mode of transportation to and from school."
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.
SOURCE Ontario School Bus Association
For further information: Media inquiries: Emily Naddaf, [email protected], Quick Response: 416-995-1276