August 10, 2017
TORONTO – Unifor, the largest union in the school bus industry, commends Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé on his investigation into the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic District school boards’ oversight of student transportation.
“This investigation confirms that the crisis across Ontario’s school bus system is the result of systemic issues, and that a chronic shortage of drivers still exists,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “Until the root causes of the driver shortage, including job insecurity, low wages, and unpaid work, are addressed the problems in student transportation in this province will continue.”
The Ombudsman’s investigation was prompted by the chaos experienced at the start of the 2016-17 school year, when the Request for Proposal (RFP) process used to award bus contracts left thousands of students stranded due to a driver shortage, a crisis that Unifor had correctly predicted months earlier.
“The recommendations in the Ombudsman report are a good start but further action is needed to put and keep drivers on the buses,” said Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268. “If we want to guarantee stable transportation for our students then the Wynne government needs to implement change to end the race to the bottom created by the current RFP system.”
Unifor's study of the school bus industry, Steering Clear, Avoiding the RFP Trap, warned that route flipping resulting from RFPs would lead to volatility and uncertainty in the school bus system with increasingly precarious work for drivers and little stability for parents and students.
For more information or to read Unifor’s report visit unifor.org/schoolbus.
For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).