A delegation of Unifor representatives met with the provincially appointed school transportation advisors on February 14 to present recommendations to improve Ontario’s school bus sector and to call for immediate action to address the prevalence of precarious work.
This meeting was a follow up action for the union and part of an ongoing campaign to deal with the important issue of creating a more stable and reliable school transportation system across the province.
Unifor’s recommendations include:
- establishing a School Bus Industry Council to review issues facing the school bus transportation industry and develop collaborative policy solutions;
- increasing funding to the Student Transportation Grant and review of the transportation funding formula;
- implementing a Fair Wage Policy for School Bus Drivers and ensuring access to Employment Insurance benefits for school bus drivers;
- improving accountability and transparency surrounding school transportation contracts
Since 2014, Unifor has engaged in an on-going campaign to highlight the poor working conditions faced by school bus drivers in Ontario. The lack of fairness, decent wages and benefits and poor job security are factors that contribute to the ongoing school bus shortage crisis.
“The sector desperately needs some stability. The core issue remains the lack of sustainable funding that has created a cycle of instability for drivers and students,” said Deb Montgomery, Local 4268 President and school bus driver.
The Ontario government announced in December that it would conduct a public review to improve the student transportation system. The review will focus on four main areas: safety and well-being for students, equity in transportation services, responsiveness to student needs and accountability in service delivery. Information on the review and the consultation process, including the deadline can be found here.
Unifor represents 2,000 school bus drivers in Ontario. The sector industry faces significant challenges to ensure that conditions are improved for students, parents and drivers. It is hoped that through the consultation process, swift and meaningful steps will be taken that will build a stronger, safer, and more stable student transportation industry.