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Ontario ombudsman to investigate chronic school bus driver shortage

Ontario’s ombudsman has launched an investigation into issues with school buses at the Toronto public and Catholic school boards that have stranded thousands of students since the start of the school year.

When the school year started, around 60 routes in Toronto were without drivers. Delays persist as students enter their fourth week of school.

Ombudsman Paul Dube said his office is still getting complaints from frustrated families who are experiencing chronic delays or are repeatedly forced to scramble to get their children to school when their buses don’t show up.

He said his investigators will look at what the boards knew about possible problems, how they responded and communicated with parents, and what can be done to prevent such problems in the future.

Dube said his office has also received 49 complaints about busing problems at other school boards.

According to the school boards, Attridge Transportation, Wheelchair Accessible Transit Inc. and SHARP Bus Lines are at the centre of the issue.

Unifor Local 4268, Canada’s largest drivers’ union, has blamed the driver shortage on the Ontario government, saying the province’s current “request for proposals” system for awarding school bus contracts leads to constant instability.

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