Ontario extending School Bus Driver Retention Pilot

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Investment to Support Driver Retention and Service Reliability for 2021-22 School Year

As part of ongoing efforts to provide students with continued access to safe and reliable transportation, the Ontario government announced that it will continue the School Bus Driver Retention Pilot (DRP) program in the 2021-22 school year. To ensure reliable transportation service throughout the pandemic, the Ontario government had extended the DRP program in the 2020-21 school year, supporting driver retention and recruitment.

The DRP program rewards school bus drivers who stay on the job throughout the school year with the intent to reduce driver turnover leading to service stability for students and families by minimizing delays and disruptions.

The DRP program has been in place for the past four school years and has helped provide stability and reliability in the student transportation system across the province. The extension to the upcoming school year will continue to provide eligible drivers with up to $2,000 based on continuous employment during the school year. It is estimated that this will benefit approximately 18,000 drivers across Ontario who provide transportation to over 830,000 students every day.

“Our commitment is to ensure students can get to schools safely with a caring, reliable and motivated group of school bus drivers,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “This investment will support service reliability and keep students safe. Our government is taking action to prevent student transportation disruptions so that students can confidently get to and from school under the care of hard-working school bus drivers in our communities.”

The Ontario government will continue the DRP program by providing total funding of over $40 million to support school bus drivers and support service reliability for families in rural and urban settings across the province.

“In what has been a difficult year for workers across the education sector, our government is taking strong and decisive action to continue supporting some of the most important people in education — those who safely drive our students to and from school,” said Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and MPP for Niagara West. “It is good news for drivers, students, and families alike that the School Bus Driver Retention Pilot program is being continued for yet another year, to ensure consistency in driver supply. This demonstrates Premier Ford and Minister Lecce’s commitment to the essential workers of our province, including school bus drivers.”

“School bus drivers perform an incredibly important role each and every day, and they deserve our thanks,” said Nancy Daigneault, Executive Director of School Bus Ontario. “I applaud the government for rewarding these hard-working school bus drivers by continuing the DRP, and for putting service reliability and student safety first.”

At a time when the pandemic has created serious disruptions in the labour market, and many school bus operators are having trouble finding qualified staff, the DRP program provides a financial incentive for school bus drivers to stay on the job, and will help to provide stability for students and families by minimizing transportation delays in the 2021-22 school year.