School Bus Tendering Could Impact Your Child


I am writing you to bring attention to a new threat to yet another group of hard working people in Thunder Bay and the rest of Ontario. In an attempt to save face from overspending in all other aspects of the Ontario government, the Ontario education ministry is trying to cut expenses by introducing a competitive tendering system for school bus services.

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Here is the issue, the drivers and staff who lose their jobs will have to start over at minimum wage, without seniority, and no benefits (if they even had any).

Right now it is very harsh starting at the bottom as a school bus driver, top senior bus drivers get first pick at the choice routes, then it goes down the list until you get to the bottom where the routes are the shortest. The shortest route at minimum rate is not enough to support one person, that person then would need a second income from somewhere.

When I started, I had to pay for my own mandatory physical, criminal records check, and to obtain my own class ‘B’ license, now on top of that there’s union initiation fees/dues and getting First Aid certification.

To make things worse, First Student and Iron Range are not the only school bus companies in the running for these routes! There are six companies altogether competing for these routes, and some of the others are very large multinational school bus companies. I am afraid that if predatory bidding tactics are used here, all current bus drivers are going to be facing unemployment or working at the bottom (minimum wage with the minimum routes). This is not just Thunder Bay, already eastern Ontario school bus operators/drivers has been devastated by this.

You and most others are probably thinking that this is how its always been, however that assumption would be incorrect. Actually how it used to work is the School boards would work together and negotiate a fair price that both the school board and school bus companies could work with. In Thunder Bay approximately 1/2 of all routes would go to each of the two companies. Iron Range was the original and only school bus company in Thunder Bay, and the school board allowed or brought in a second company to avoid a monopoly and keep prices and negotiations fair. Now with this new system, if a large multinational company gets all the routes and eliminate all the other companies, then the next time routes go up for bid, they basically get to call the shots and name their price. Now how is that going to save the system money?

Wayne Schulz

school bus driver

PS -> Please encourage others to contact their MPP on this. It’s not just the school bus operators and drivers affected by this, parents should also be concerned about the affects of a lowest bidder wins scenario when it comes to the transportation of their children.

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