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Pandemic, vaccine mandates contribute to school bus driver shortage in Manitoba

Click to play video: 'Pandemic, vaccine mandates contribute to school bus driver shortage in Manitoba'
Pandemic, vaccine mandates contribute to school bus driver shortage in Manitoba
The COVID-19 pandemic had already led to difficulties, but a recent Manitoba vaccine mandate means school bus drivers are in even shorter supply, says the president of a local bus company – Oct 21, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic had already led to difficulties, but a recent Manitoba vaccine mandate means school bus drivers are in even shorter supply, says the president of a local bus company.

Some Manitoba school divisions — including Seine River south of Winnipeg — have suggested they’ll have to limit bus service only to those students who live further away if the situation worsens.

BJ Langdon of Tony’s Team Transport told 680 CJOB the problem is months in the works and is only being exacerbated by further restrictions.

“We talked about this in the summer, about how bad it was and how it was probably worse with COVID,” he said.

“Now, I guess, with the vaccine mandate that’s in place and some of the regulations that started on Monday, it’s exaggerated this and made it worse for sure.”

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“(Some drivers) knew the vaccination thing was probably going to happen, that the mandate was probably going to occur, so they moved on.

“I think some probably just got (by) on whatever supports they were using and just found it easier to stay home and not come to work.”

Langdon says he isn’t sure what will fix the issue, but suggests bus driving is a well-paying, enjoyable job for people who may be out of work due to the pandemic — and that his company’s role is to keep kids safe during these uncertain times.

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“I think the mandate is put in place to obviously protect the kids on the bus,” he said. “A lot of these children can’t get vaccinated (yet) because of their age, or they haven’t got vaccinated.

“The plan here is to protect the children first and foremost. I think that’s our key job here, for our company, anyway.”

Manitoba’s vaccine requirements are expected to be in place for some time, according to public health officials.

On Monday, the province’s chief public health official, Dr. Brent Roussin, said he expects restrictions to remain in place at least until spring.

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“We review all these things all the time. But I think, given the state of our health-care system and the demands the respiratory virus season will be likely to put on it, it’s very likely we’ll have to take (the mandate) through this winter,” Roussin said.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba facing shortage of school bus drivers'
Manitoba facing shortage of school bus drivers

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