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Contract chaos threatens reliable school bus service

August 21, 2019 - 12:00 AM

TORONTO – Unifor warns contract chaos is threatening reliable school bus service in the Durham and Kawartha regions, just days before the school year is set to resume. 

“Despite warnings and past failures the Student Transportation Services of Central Ontario (STSCO) and the Ford government still have not addressed the issues that plague the school bus system,” said Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi. “As a result service for thousands of students may once again may be compromised.”

As children and their families get ready to return to class, school bus drivers at First Student, Campeau and other bus line operators under STSCO in Clarington County, Northumberland County, the City of Peterborough, and Peterborough County still do not have service contracts in place.

“Typically at this point drivers would be preparing for their assigned routes by attending startup meetings and doing ‘dry runs’ to review student pickup locations and conduct safety reviews,” said Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268. “Instead STSCO has failed to sign the required contracts with the regular transportation providers, leaving drivers in limbo and parents preparing for the start of the school year without knowing which bus carrier or driver will be transporting their children.”

Unifor, representing more than 350 school bus drivers at First Student and Campeau bus lines in the affected region, alleges that drawn out negotiations with STSCO has created confusion and anxiety for school bus drivers, leading many to consider more stable work outside the industry.

“There are hundreds of drivers sitting waiting to hear what their future employment holds, wondering if they have a job or not,” said Unifor Director of Road Transportation Len Poirier. “Parents need to know that the current system puts their child’s safety out to the lowest bidder.”

On May 28 2019, bus drivers from across the Greater Toronto Area rallied outside STSCO headquarters in Peterborough, Ontario to call for an end to the constant contract flipping that has resulted in decreased standards and turmoil in the industry.

As Ontario’s leading school bus driver union, Unifor has long advocated for changes to the administration of the province’s school bus industry.

“It’s time for Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and the Ford government to step up and fix Ontario’s consortia bidding process,” said Rizvi. 

For more information please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).