Should seatbelts be mandatory on Canada’s school buses?

Thomas Bink
Pulse of Canada
One child in critical condition from a collision between a school bus and a one-tonne truck north of Calgary

A bus crash in rural Alberta Friday has given new prominence the issue of whether seatbelts should be mandatory on school buses.

According to Dr. Louis Francescutti, president of the Canadian Medical Association, the government is putting children at risk by not mandating seatbelts on buses across the country.

"Seatbelts are mandatory in cars and airplanes. I don't see what makes a bus carrying students any different," he told the Calgary Herald.

Late Friday afternoon, nine children were injured when a school bus struck a work truck at an intersection north of Calgary. Seven of the children suffered broken bones and lacerations and two boys remain in hospital. It followed a crash Thursday in Holland, Man., where eight children and two adults were injured when a school bus tipped over after being struck by a car.


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Currently, the federal government has left individual provinces to decide whether to mandate restraints on buses. Francescutti believes provinces have not implemented mandatory seatbelts because of the cost of retrofitting all their buses, and because it would be difficult to ensure kids are using them without dedicated monitors.

And, some studies say that the thick padding and spacing of seats makes unrestrained seating more safe.

"There are studies that are conflicting," Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver said. "Every time we get a really unfortunate reminder about how important this is — when there is a collision — we talk about it again."

But it's Francescutti's first comment that really resonates. It's become habitual to buckle up whenever possible — in a car, on an airplane, even on a ferris wheel — and it seems odd that the option does not exist on buses carrying our most valuable passengers.

So we ask you: Should seatbelts be mandatory on Canada's school buses?

Have your say in the comments area below.