Manitoba school bus drivers in high demand

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By Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

School bus drivers are in high demand as a longtime Manitoba-wide shortage of the professionals, made worse by COVID-19 and new public health orders, disrupts routes and student commutes.
Transportation managers in school divisions across the province are increasingly facing challenges with driver recruitment and retention, according to Paul Ilchena, executive director of the Manitoba Association of School Business Officials.
Ilchena put out a call to members of the public interested in driving for divisions Thursday, saying now is a good time to get involved “to help the education system.”
“I want to encourage people: if they’re looking to be involved in the education system, it’s a great opportunity and an interesting way to do it — from driving a bus in the morning to driving it at night, and connecting with kids,” he said.
Job postings in Winnipeg, Pembina Trails, St. James-Assiniboia and Seine River school divisions indicate boards are seeking drivers to start immediately. At the same time, Tony’s Team Transport charter service is receiving more route requests from divisions and independent schools than it can fill.
“(The shortage) is a recurring problem every year, but it’s been highlighted by COVID,” said BJ Langdon, president of the local contractor for busing services.
“Some of our senior drivers are simply retiring, obviously nervous that they don’t want to catch this disease, whether they’re vaccinated or not… and now, with the vaccine mandate, you can’t drive school kids unless you’re double vaxxed or prepared to take the testing up to three times a week.”
He noted several unvaccinated drivers he employs have decided they don’t...continued

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