|Governments of Canada and Ontario Announce an Agreement Towards Improving Pensions for Canadians
Article By: Ministry of Finance
Article Date: February 16, 2016
Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance of the Government of Canada, Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance for the Government of Ontario and Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance for the Government of Ontario, today announced they have reached an agreement to work together to achieve their mutual goal of improving pensions for Canadians.
Many Canadians are not saving adequately for retirement and, unless action is taken, will face a decline in their standard of living when they retire. The governments of Canada and Ontario have both prioritized improving retirement income security.
Ontario welcomes the federal government's leadership in renewing a national dialogue to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and is committed to continuing to work collaboratively with the federal government, provinces and territories to make progress on a national solution that addresses the needs of future retirees.
To provide more time for discussion among provinces and the federal government, Ontario is proposing to phase-in the launch of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) by starting enrollment in January 2017, one year later than the original start date, and by starting the first phase of contributions in January, 2018. This will give businesses more time to enroll, and provide about 400 businesses with the additional time they have been seeking.
Over the coming months, Ontario and the federal government will be working intensively with other jurisdictions to explore a range of potential CPP enhancements designed to improve Canadians' retirement income security. To this end, the governments of Canada and Ontario will work with other provinces and territories to develop options for CPP enhancements by the end of May - in time for the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Finance Ministers meeting in June, 2016.
In the spirit of collaboration, the federal government acknowledges that the Ontario Government has made important first strides in establishing the ORPP. If provincial agreement on CPP enhancement is not reached, the federal government acknowledges the Government of Ontario's objective to move forward with the ORPP. As such, the federal government has agreed to facilitate plan registration and data sharing arrangements, and will work with Ontario to ensure that key elements of plan administration, such as the collection of employer and employee contributions, are completed efficiently and cost-effectively.
NOTE: A business session will be available to all registered delegates of the 2016 Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) on Mon. Apr. 25, 1:30-2:30 pm with the Hon. Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.
|OASBO Letter to Ontario Transportation Minister Del Duca -Railway Crossings and the School Bus Stopping Law
Excerpt from Letter:
“As a key stakeholder responsible for the daily transportation of over 800,000 students in Ontario, we view this as a significant student safety issue and we are therefore asking that the MTO conduct a review of the current ‘stopping law’ to determine if we are placing our school buses at greater risk by having them stop at all ‘protected’ railway crossings.”
Click here to read full letter
|Texas District Pilots Extended School Bus Stop Arms
Article By: School Transportation News (STN)
Article Date: February 9, 2016
The illegal passing of stopped school buses continues to be a common problem. In order to address it, McKinney Independent School District (ISD) in Texas is piloting the use of extended, six-foot long stop arms.
According to the district’s drivers, motorists are illegally passing their school buses about 20 times a day, accounting for approximately 3,500 incidents by the end of the school year.
“It’s just baffling,” said Bruce Austin, a driver for Durham School Services, which provides contracted transportation for McKinney ISD. “You’re on pins and needles because you give your students the O.K. to step out, and here comes this car, and they’re coming like you’re not even sitting there. I don’t know if they literally just don’t see the lights and the sign or just don’t care.”
Bus Safety Solutions installed these stop arms in 10 buses that run routes through high-traffic areas. Each unit costs about a thousand dollars. If they prove effective in curbing illegal passing, the district said it will consider equipping additional buses with stop arms.
Austin said that while the extended stop arms may present a challenge on more narrow streets, he has seen a noticeable difference.
“Now, I’m not seeing any cars trying to just literally go by me because they are afraid they might extend out into traffic or run into the arm. So, I think it’s just a great idea. I’ve seen that it’s working,” he said.
Pete Chancellor, general manager for Durham’s McKinney location, also agrees that things are improving.
“With the feedback we’ve gotten from the drivers, a lot of them see a big difference because the extended arm is so visible. So, we’ll continue to increase awareness and get feedback to see how it goes,” he said.
But bus driver Sandra Ellis said that while there is improvement, there are still motorists who will go out of their way to go around the bus, even with the longer, more noticeable stop arms.
“It’s helping some because they see it sticking out there. You still have some of them that will run it. Some of them will go into the turn lane, in the median to pass it. I even had a big truck go around it, but it’s helping some,” she said.
For those that continue to overtake the buses, Ellis has a simple request.
“Please, pay attention to our lights. Just give it a few minutes, and we’ll let you go by. It’s not going to take that long. Please, be cautious. These kids are precious kids,” she said.
|REMINDER - 2016 Canadian Pupil Transportation Conference (CPTC)
Quick reminder regarding the upcoming 2016 Canadian Pupil Transportation Conference (CPTC) – April 16-21, 2016, Winnipeg, Manitoba - http://www.cptc2016.ca/
Line-Up of Break-out Sessions:
- NAPT Canadian Credit Course – 203 Communication Skills for Transportation Professionals
- Overview of CSA School Bus Standard D250-16
- Special Needs Transportation
- Let’s Talk about Your Stress
- North Dakota Railway Accident
- Key Performance Indicators
- The Whole Employee
- Alternative Fuels – Propane and Electric
- Extending the Learning Day: WiFi on School Buses*
- Playing Nice in the Sandbox
- Contract Bus Operations
- Original Equipment Manufacturer’s Panel
- People Don’t Leave Jobs, They Leave Bosses
- Driver Retention
- Stop Arm Violators
- Technology Innovation Panel
- NAPT Overview
- Dreaming Big, Living Bigger
- To Drive Education, Driver Yourself Well First
- Extending the Learning Day: WiFi on School Buses*
- Culture and School Community
|Canada to Require Bus and Truck Drivers to Log Hours Electronically
Article By: CTV News
Article Date: February 15, 2016
After years of study, the federal government says it's working to implement new safety regulations that are aligned with U.S. efforts to tackle fatigue among truck and bus drivers.
Drivers would be required to electronically record their hours on the road, says Transport Canada, marking a change from the mandatory paper logs that have been in use since the 1930s.
"Transport Canada believes that any compliance date should be operationally feasible and aligned, to the fullest extent possible, with the date that the U.S. rules will come into force," spokeswoman Natasha Gauthier said in an email, but she added there's been no commitment on timing.
Those American regulations are due to come into force in late 2017. The regulations would cover cross-border and interprovincial travel, Gauthier added.
"The technical specifications and standards for electronic logging device (ELD) technology may differ slightly between the U.S. and Canada, but should not be necessarily inconsistent," she said.
Industry players have been frustrated by how long it has taken Ottawa to change the regulations.
"We have been talking about this for 10 years," said Motor Coach Canada CEO Doug Switzer. "Ironically, the industry would like to see regulations on these kinds of things and it's the government that is dragging their feet on it."
If implemented, commercial truck and bus drivers would be required to record their hours behind the wheel with devices that automatically record driving time by monitoring engine hours, vehicle movement, kilometres driven and location information. The devices are estimated by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to annually save US$1 billion in administrative costs, about 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries. Similar Canadian figures weren't available. The units also make it easier for provincial officials monitoring compliance and would address concerns that handwritten forms could be doctored.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance says the move towards electronic logs will bring the industry into the 21st century.
"Our industry shares its workplace with the public more than any of the other mode of transportation, yet the enforcement community is relying upon an archaic, outdated way of monitoring and enforcing what is arguably the most important safety rule," said president David Bradley.
The devices, which cost an average of a couple of thousand dollars depending on type of unit, track hours on the road and rest periods to help companies to better manage their fleet. Truckers and bus drivers are currently allowed to be behind the wheel for up to 13 hours in a day but must be off-duty for 10 hours, eight of which must be consecutive. Bradley said about half of Canadian trucks have or are in the process of installing electronic devices.
TransForce, one of North America's largest trucking companies, said the devices are already installed in all of its big fleets in the U.S.
"It's just the small guys that are not ready yet but they will have to get ready for the end of 2017," CEO Alain Bedard told analysts during a conference call Friday.
There is general acceptance among drivers, even though privacy concerns have been raised because the electronic devices allow companies to track their every move, says Leo Laliberte, assistant director of the freight division of Teamsters Canada, which represents about 25,000 truckers in the country. In addition to reducing fatigue, the devices and anti-harassment provisions in the U.S. regulations protect workers from being forced by companies facing driver shortages to work longer hours, he said.
Laliberte said any new regulations in Canada should take into account the country's unique challenges, including longer travel distances and fewer rest stops compared to the U.S.
"In Canada, you've got to plan like five hours ahead to make sure that you'll be at a truck stop when your machine is going to tell you you won't have any more hours," he said.
Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operator's Business Association of Canada, said small fleet owners aren't opposed to the adoption of new technology but favour a voluntary system that includes incentives.
|RCMP Crack Down on School Bus Passing After Video Posted Online
Article By: CBC News (Prince Edward Island)
Article Date: February 10, 2016
Prince Edward Island RCMP are trying new tactics to crack down on drivers zipping past stopped school buses after a home video shot last fall put the issue in the spotlight.
The video shot in November by Brookfield resident Claude McNeill showed traffic zooming past a school bus that had stopped to pick up his grandchildren.
The story was shared thousands of times on social media, prompting many Island residents to share their own experiences and call on the RCMP for better enforcement.
Const. Jeff Gillis said the story clearly got people talking, and that grabbed the attention of RCMP.
"The awareness that's been generated as a result of that story has been great to generate discussion in the office," he said. "So, we've done some brainstorming, our management has been good to come up with some creative ideas." Those ideas include having officers ride along on school buses or in unmarked cars behind buses in order to catch drivers in the act.
Gillis doesn't have exact numbers, but said those new strategies have led to several tickets being issued. At least three drivers have been fined since November — a significant jump over the past three years in which only a total of five fines were handed out across the Island.
Gillis said police are issuing tickets not just for passing stopped buses, but also for other infractions that put students' safety at risk like speeding and distracted driving. "They might not notice the school bus flashing if they're approaching the school bus too quickly and can't get stopped or if they're committing another offence like using their cell phone at the same time," he said.
RCMP are now issuing news releases when a driver has been fined, just like they do with impaired driving charges. "The press releases and the increase in public awareness really is designed to generate buzz, to generate conversation, and to make it in the front of people's minds and more aware of their driving."
The McNeills say they've noticed a difference outside their home in Brookfield since the video was posted. "There has been an improvement since the video went online early November," said Jamie Doucette, whose parents posted the video. "It has brought awareness, though some people still slip by oblivious to the bus on the other side of the road with red lights flashing and the horn blowing. It still needs work but an improvement has been seen."
Madeline McNeill, whose husband shot the video, credits P.E.I.'s transportation department for installing a sign nearby warning drivers about the bus stop and RCMP for stepping up enforcement. "I'm very impressed with RCMP," McNeill said. "They are really doing a good job. I have seen them out here more since this video. So, they are really pulling their weight when it comes to trying to get something done."
Though McNeill won't be entirely happy until she stops seeing cars zip past school buses altogether. "The children need to be respected, and so do the bus drivers, because they have a lot of care and attention for the children getting on that bus."