After a long series of negotiations, an agreement was finally reached last
Friday, September 2, with the remaining bus carriers that had refused the offers made by the Québec Government and yet accepted by the Fédération des transporteurs par autobus (FTA). As of today, all students will be receiving transportation services. However, the driver shortage continues to be a reality for all school boards and school service centres.
The Government’s offer to put an end to negotiations is not a “one size fits all” solution and, because of the SWLSB’s unique reality, does not suffice, as we will be underfunded in our transportation envelope. Unlike other school boards and school service centres, the SWLSB covers an extremely vast territory — 35,000
square kilometres — which makes our bus routes longer and more costly to operate. As a consequence, the Québec Government’s contingency funding formula did not meet the expectations of all our carriers. This is why it is crucial for the SWLSB to be funded adequately in order to provide transportation services to all our students across our entire territory without ending the year in a deficit. Based on our calculations, we are looking at a deficit of over a half a million dollars annually for the next six years, for a total deficit of close to $4 million.
“This situation puts our school board in a difficult position. At SWLSB, we manage our budget rigorously and present a balanced budget each year. The Québec Government must provide us with the adequate transportation funding, as it is responsible for meeting the needs of all students. The alternative we face is a
budget deficit and financing shortfall which would unfortunately directly impact student services,” said Mr. Paolo Galati, SWLSB Chairperson.
The Chairperson of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board has reached out to the Education Minister, Mr. Jean- François Roberge, in hopes of resolving this urgent matter as soon as possible.
With a workforce of more than 2,000 employees, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board is the third largest English school board of the Province of Québec and boasts a graduation rate of 88.1%. Its territory comprises the
administrative regions of Laval, Lanaudière and the Laurentians. The school board provides preschool, elementary, secondary, adult education and vocational training services to over 14,000 students in 35 schools and 4 centres, as well as business training services.