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February 17, 2012  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

OSBA shares mission, goals with provincial officials


ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Personnel from the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) recently met with transportation and education officials in the province to discuss a variety of issues, including the association’s mission and goals.

Late last month, OSBA Vice President Doug Herd, Executive Director Rick Donaldson, Director John Chapman and Safety and Legislative Consult Dave Carroll met with Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli to talk about annual testing of commercial drivers over the age of 65 and Bill 118, which covers a ban on two-way radios that expires in January 2013. 

They also discussed criminal record checks and vehicle safety standards for school bus drivers, and a Highway Traffic Act (HTA) loophole that allows retired school buses to remain yellow. 

The minister confirmed that stakeholder consultations, including those with the OSBA, will begin this month on the annual commercial driver testing issue, and on Bill 118. Chiarelli also confirmed that the HTA loophole will be corrected at “the first legislative opportunity,” the association said in a recent newsletter.

Moreover, in a separate event, Donaldson met with Emilee Irwin, senior policy adviser to Education Minister Laurel Broten, to brief the minister’s political staff on the OSBA, its mission and its strategic goals. Officials said the meeting also provided Broten’s staff with the history of school bus negotiations, and the advice and recommendations the association has given to previous ministers.
Finally, on Jan. 30, Donaldson and OSBA President Gord Taylor met with Lisa MacLeod, MPP of Nepean-Carleton and Progressive Conservative education critic, to inform her of the association. The presentation covered the OSBA’s history, goals, a review of student transportation reforms, driver’s wages and ride time/student achievement.

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The current education ministry seems driven to enforce RFP Request for Proposals type competative bidding with pre-qualification bidding requirements. From what little I have garnered, that method seems to leave the smaller firm bids in jeopardy. The criticism is large muti-national size firms dominate the market and possibly obtain regional dominance or monopolies, that in turn need to be broken-up to re-establish healthy competition. Examples of that already exist in the USA school bus market. As a 6 year veteran school bus driver I can see real and negative changes entering the job. We should all agree that the driver staff is the immediate to customer, frontend-service provider. If you have adequately compensated driver staff is it really necessary to install a $4,000 per buss speaking alarm system plus black box devices that check a driver's use of the brake, running speed and exact location every step of the way? Management of these various companies should have faith that a human brain equipped, well trained driver is their biggest asset to safe reliable service. But do go ahead and shrink these people's paychecks each year to purchase the over priced, dubious merits tech-no crap I have described above. In my 6 year time on-board I have seen many dedicated and conscientious drivers leave the job due to horrendous poor pay issues. Let some of the schoolboards go with the second lowest or average bid price, in the awards of succesful bus company bids. It has been done in the past by goverments for highway jobs and new structures. Very soon the bus companies will be at the same job fairs with recruiters from McDonalds and Wendys and Dust Busters Janitorial as the pay rates are equal or bouncing 'below' Ontario minimum statutory wage rate for typical workdays. Let us see what the future holds, eh.

Mike Gough    |    Mar 01, 2012 07:59 AM

I gave up my Ontario class B license last year for the sole reason of the hassle + cost of annual renewal was not worth!

David Hawke    |    Feb 22, 2012 04:15 AM

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