Government to take 'immediate action' on French school bus issues

·2 min read

P.E.I.'s minister of education says his department will be taking "immediate action" to help solve the busing issues in the French Language School Board.

This comes after board officials told CBC News they hoped to get the department's financial assistance on the issue earlier this week. Officials said some students are spending up to three hours on a bus every day to get to and from school.

"We're going to take immediate action to make sure that we address this for the students that are on the bus the longest," said Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Brad Trivers in the legislature Friday morning.

"If we have to send a taxi to take them from point A to point B so they can cut the time on the bus in half, we're going to do that and we're going to do it right away."

The board had said it needed five or six more buses in order to cut travel time but were also looking at taxis. The minister did not commit to any new buses for the board, but said a joint committee has been looking at the issue for the past several months.

Greens push for answers

During a question period exchange with Trivers on P.E.I.'s bus driver shortages, Green MLA Michele Beaton said she's hearing of incidents where buses have to do two trips to get all students home because some buses can't run.

She said she's also heard of French school board students in Stratford being on the bus for over an hour to get to École François-Buote — just across the river.

"From Stratford! That's nine kilometres away from the school and it's almost an hour away," she said.

Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.
Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.

"I feel like we are making progress," Trivers said, adding that there have been some creative solutions, like the Public Schools Branch training their own bus drivers.

"It's something that the previous administration really struggled with."

Beaton also asked Trivers if the government would consider lowering the educational requirement for the job, as bus drivers currently need to have completed high school.

Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.
Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.

The minister said it has been looked at, but it's complicated.

"When we get right down to the nitty gritty, we really need to work closely with unions, and with the rules that are involved in collective agreements to make sure we do this properly — and I was told this is not an area we can move on," he said.

The minister said he will continue to work on the issue.

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