With a shortage of drivers already causing problems for the Ontario School Bus Association, a sudden jump in the minimum wage could see parents forced to make alternate transportation plans.
Association president, Mark Begg, said currently, drivers make anywhere from $13-$17 an hour.
“We’re afraid that we’re not going to be able to maintain that gap between the current minimum wage and the wage level that school bus drivers are at today. That we’re going to see a further exodus of people leaving the industry, potentially for jobs with a little bit less responsibility for the same amount of money.”
The association says areas they are most concerned about are the GTHA, Durham, London, Barrie, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa.
“I’ll be the first one to say we don’t pay school bus drivers enough in this province. I’m not against minimum wage, the Ontario school bus association is not against the increase in minimum wage — we fully support it. However, the funding needs to be there in order to support it.”
The renewed concern over driver shortages follows an Ontario Ombudsman investigation launched in September 2016 following an outcry from parents across the Greater Toronto Area after children were left waiting for buses that were delayed or never arrived.
Paul Dube’s findings were released in August 2017 and found Toronto’s two largest school boards “mishandled” a bus driver shortage.