Government of Canada launches school bus seatbelt pilots in the District of Sudbury, Ontario and British Columbia

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Together with Gary Lillico of Canadians Parents for Mandatory Seatbelts I have been urging Transport Minister Marc Garneau to introduce legislation to require seatbelts on school buses across Canada. The evidence is compelling. Injuries can be reduced and lives can be saved. While this week's announced pilot project is a significant step forward I encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament as well as Transport Minister Marc Garneau and make your voice heard.
-GJN

TORONTO, Feb. 14, 2020 /CNW/ – The safety of Canada’s road users is a priority for federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and that starts with the safe transportation of our school children.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced that the Government of Canada is launching a pilot project introducing seatbelts in some school buses with the District of Sudbury, Ontario, and at a second location in British Columbia, which will be announced at a later date.

The pilot projects will involve a limited number of new school buses, equipped with three-point seatbelts that follow the latest federal safety standards.

School buses are the safest way to transport an estimated 2.2 million Canadian children to school. Recognizing that seatbelts can provide an additional layer of safety in rare, but severe school bus collisions, these pilots are an important step in examining the optimal and most efficient use of this safety feature in Canada.

The Sudbury Student Services Consortium as well as British Columbia expressed interest in this pilot. The Government of Canada is also open to partnering with other governments or jurisdictions who would be willing to step up and participate in a pilot.

The need for pilot projects stems from the report of the Task Force on School Bus Safety, Strengthening School Bus Safety in Canada, which explains the considerations associated with installing and using seatbelts on school buses, such as proper seatbelt adjustments for children.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada is pleased to collaborate with the Government of British Columbia and with Ontario’s Sudbury Student Services Consortium on these important pilot projects involving seatbelts on school buses. School buses continue to be the safest means of transporting children to and from school in Canada, but if there is an opportunity for improvement, we will explore all options as we continue to study and analyse the potential use of seatbelts on school buses. These pilots are an important element of our collective efforts to further strengthen school bus safety in Canada, and we look forward to the findings.”

– Minister of Transportthe Honourable Marc Garneau

“The Province of B.C. looks forward to working with Transport Canada to identify how jurisdictions can strengthen and improve safety in and around school buses. Participation in this pilot project will provide important information that will help guide decisions on school bus safety.”

– Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Honourable Claire Trevena
Government of British Columbia

“The Sudbury Student Services Consortium is thrilled to be working in partnership with Transport Canada on this very exciting project to support school bus safety. We are looking forward to working with our local school boards, school bus operators, students, and parents on this very important initiative.”

– Renée Boucher, Executive Director, Sudbury Student Services Consortium

Quick Facts

  • Each day, Canadian children travel to and from school every day on 51,670 school buses.
  • In July 2018, Transport Canada published new requirements to support the voluntary installation of three-point seatbelts on school buses.
  • In January 2019, the federal, provincial, territorial Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety established a special Task Force to carefully examine the issue of school bus safety, both inside and outside the bus, with an emphasis on seatbelts.

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SOURCE Transport Canada

Urging the government to put seatbelts on school buses

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You may know that I have joined with Gary Lillico and his advocacy group Seatbelt’s for Canadian School Buses Now to urge Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau to require seatbelts on all school buses. Thousands have signed a petition in support. Read details on this campaign and watch an incredible CBC report for background information.

Tonight, Mount Royal Member of Parliament, Anthony Housefather, rose in the House of Commons to ask about this important issue. Thank you Anthony for pressing forward. We hope to see solid action by the Minister early in the new year to increase safety for school children from coast to coast.

I’ll continue to call upon Minister Garneau to move the necessary regulations or legislation. I have already spoken with him on three occasions on this topic over the last 12 months and I believe that he is interested in making good on this important subject that falls within his ministerial mandate.

School bus safety advocates sounding the alarm

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Advocacy across Canada calling for mandatory seat belts in school buses is picking up steam with support from some members of Parliament and the launching of a new petition to the House of Commons.

I wrote about this issue in this blog last December following a CBC Fifth Estate report exposing the serious risks to children because of the lax rules across the country.

A new petition, sponsored by Rachel Harder, MP of Lethbridge, Alberta, calls upon the Minister of Transport to make it mandatory by law to have 3-point lap and shoulder seatbelts installed in every Canadian school bus, and that it be legally required to wear these seatbelts while riding on a school bus of any size. At time of this writing, 654 signatures have been gathered. The petition will close on June 8, 2019.

I strongly encourage you to sign the signature and show your support. Discuss this important issue with other school parents, friends and neighbours. If you have any doubts watch the CBC report.

And hats off to Gary Lillico who started a petition several months ago on change.org that is nearly at 100,000 signatures. You can still add your name to this growing list.


The picture above cost a child’s life because Canadian school buses have no seatbelts.

“Thousands of Canadian children are being injured and in some cases killed because school buses aren’t equipped with seatbelts. If they were, these tragedies could be prevented,: Lillico said.

“I started this petition because I’m a school bus driver and I’m the only one to buckle up. Does that make sense? It’s a dollars over safety issue!”

A previously unreleased 2010 Transport Canada test crash study revealed that school buses failed safety tests and failed to prevent serious injuries in the event of side-impact or rollover crashes. The tests were done on the heals of an Alberta teenager who was killed after being ejected out of the bus and dying on impact with the ground. The results of the test and study were not released until CBC’s investigative report show The Fifth Estate made them public in October 2018, Lillico said. “The report concluded that more needs to be done to “reduce or eliminate the serious injuries” and Transport Canada’s chief of crashworthiness research said seatbelts are “a good first step”towards improving school bus safety.

Lillico adds, nine states in the USA are required by law to have three-point seatbelts for all riders. Why can’t we do the same in Canada? Liability laws for school boards, schools and drivers in the USA have been implemented and are working nicely! Canada has already borrowed seatbelt rules and regulations for seatbelt installation on school buses from the USA. With these already in place we only need to legislate usage to law! This hasn’t been done as our government doesn’t want to spend the money. They say here’s how you must do it, if you want too, However offering no funds, help or legislation. 

“It’s time for Canada to realize that seatbelts save lives and protect our children,” Lillico said. “You can potentially save a child’s life by just signing this petition! Please SIGN and SHARE today.” 

I cannot think of a greater priority than safeguarding our children, especially as they make their way to and from school.

Please sign these petitions:

Update on Dec. 9, 2019

Rear seat-belt reminder systems

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Gordellogo

Seats belts save lives

Consumers Union advocates for rear seat-belt reminder systems

When it comes to getting recalcitrant drivers and front-seat passengers to use seat belts, there’s nothing quite as effective as that irritating dinging that just won’t go away until they buckle up.

But there’s no federal requirement for seat-belt notification systems in the back seats of vehicles, where children usually ride. Consumers Union and some other safety groups want that to change.

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