In order to avoid a deficit, the SWLSB called for adequate funding of transportation services to avoid a deficit. In a press release dated September 6th 2022, the board announced that after a long series of negotiations, an agreement was finally reached on 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 the time of the publication of the press release by the board, all students were receiving transportation services. However, the driver shortage continues to be a reality for all school boards and school service centres, with the carriers who had refused the Government of Quebec that the Bus Carriers Federation (FTA) had nevertheless accepted.
The board maintains that the government’s offer to end the talks does not represent a one-size-fits-all solution. “Given the unique reality of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (CSSWL), it is insufficient and will lead to underfunding of our budget envelope allocated to school transportation. Unlike other school boards and school service centres, the SWLSB covers an extremely vast territory, ie 35,000 square kilometres, making our bus routes longer and more costly to manage. Consequently, the establishment of a contingency fund as a means of financing did not meet the expectations of each of our carriers.” This, according to the board, is why adequate funding is of paramount importance to the it. This is what would allow them to provide transportation for all their students throughout their territory without ending the year with a deficit which, according to their calculations, will amount to more than half a million dollars annually for the next six years, for a total deficit of nearly $4 million.
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“This situation puts our school board in a difficult position. At the SWLSB, we maintain
rigorous budget management and achieve a balanced budget year after year. The Government of
Quebec must fund our transportation services adequately because it is its duty to meet the
needs of all our students. Otherwise, we will be faced with a budget deficit and a lack of
funding which will unfortunately have direct repercussions on student services”, said Paolo Galati president of the SWLSB,.
The President of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board has contacted the Minister of Education,
Mr. Jean-François Roberge, in the hope of resolving this urgent matter as quickly as possible.