Ontario Addresses School Bus Driver Shortage
Province Continues Funding for School Bus Driver Retention Program
TORONTO — Ontario is tackling the province's school bus driver shortage by continuing the School Bus Driver Retention Pilot Program this year. The program will help school bus operators across the province with driver retention and recruitment by rewarding school bus drivers who stay on the job throughout the year.
"The school bus driver shortage has been an ongoing issue that impacts students and families across Ontario," said Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce. "We're working together to keep our students safe as they travel to and from school and providing stability to parents by investing the highest levels in transportation."
Eligible school bus drivers could receive up to two separate retention bonuses of up to $1,000 (less applicable taxes) each, based on continuous employment over two periods between September to December 2019 and January to June 2020. This program is intended to reduce driver turnover and make student transportation services more reliable for students and families.
The government will partner again with the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) and a service provider to facilitate the administration of bonus payments to eligible school bus drivers.
"We are very pleased to be partnering with the Ministry of Education to continue the School Bus Driver Retention Pilot Program into the next school year," said Chris Harwood, President of OSBA. "The government's support in this regard is a testament to the extraordinary efforts put forth each and every day by all professional school bus drivers to get kids to school safely, on-time and ready to learn."
Both OSBA and the Independent School Bus Operators Association (ISBOA) work closely and collaboratively on this initiative.
"Our members are very excited about an extension and the assistance this program brings to school bus driver recruitment and retention in Ontario," said Rob Murphy, President of ISBOA. "It reinforces the government's recognition of an essential public service within the overall education system for all students and families and will continue to add stability for our industry and support for our drivers as they take care of our precious cargo."
The School Bus Driver Retention Pilot Program is intended to alleviate the issue of driver shortage as the ministry undertakes a review of the student transportation funding formula to achieve a more efficient and accountable student transportation system in Ontario.
- Each school day, more than 830,000 students are safely transported to and from school by school buses and school-purpose vehicles.
- In the 2019-20 school year, the government will invest more than $1 billion to support student transportation, a 10 per cent increase over the previous year.
- Ontario will invest up to $40 million to continue the School Bus Driver Retention Pilot Program in 2019-20.
- Eligibility criteria for bonus payments to school bus drivers will remain the same as with previous periods.