Quebec reaches agreement in principle with school bus companies ahead of return to class

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Quebec's Education Ministry says the agreement in principle will ensure safe and reliable transportation for all students for the start of the school year. (David Bell/CBC - image credit)
Quebec's Education Ministry says the agreement in principle will ensure safe and reliable transportation for all students for the start of the school year. (David Bell/CBC - image credit)

Just days before back to school for Quebec students, the province says it has reached a deal with the federation representing school bus companies, a significant step in resolving the threat of service disruptions for thousands of families.

In a statement Friday, Quebec's Education Ministry said the agreement in principle will ensure safe and reliable transportation for all students for the start of the school year.

The ministry said the deal covers a period of six years and the federation is recommending its members vote in favour of it. Until the vote, the content of the agreement will remain confidential.

Luc Lafrance, the president of the federation representing the private transportation companies, the Fédération des transporteurs par autobus (FTA), said he is pleased by the measures put in place by the government.

Before Friday, the province and transportation companies were at an impasse in their contract negotiations, which started in May.

Due to the lack of agreement, school boards and service centres had warned parents this week to prepare a Plan B to get their children to school.

Approximately 60 per cent of bus transportation contracts expired on June 30 provincewide. In and around Montreal, Lafance said 95 per cent of school bus driver contracts were not renewed.

Lafrance had said talks were "stalling everywhere" because the government wouldn't meet the companies' cost demands, which he said are higher this year due to the rise in inflation and lack of drivers.