Bus driver shortage disrupting high school sporting events

High school sports hit another roadblock in Waterloo Region this week after more than ten games were rescheduled on Thursday because of a school bus driver shortage.

“There will be disappointment,” said Matthew Gerard, coordinating superintendent of business services at the Waterloo Region District School Board.

The driver shortage impacted games across multiple high schools, including junior boys soccer, field hockey and senior boys football.

Staff say there may be more cancellations down the road.

”Based on the driver levels there is a possibility that we will have to cancel games,” said Gerard. “It depends again on the scheduling.”

Gerard says the shortage has also caused buses to be late during transportation before and after school.

A number of factors are behind the staffing crunch.

“We have lost some bus drivers as a result of the additional requests that we have put forward with respect to the vaccine attestation and the rapid antigen testing as applicable,” he said.

Gerard wasn’t able to say specifically how many drivers resigned because of the new policy.

School Bus Ontario says a staff shortage isn’t new.

“Partly because of the pandemic obviously, but there’s also new competition out there for their wage bracket,” said Nancy Daigneault, School Bus Ontario’s executive director. “And their wages quite frankly are just way too low right now.”

Daigneault says a number of bus drivers also retired last year during the pandemic.

The school board is hoping to recruit more staff for the job to avoid a further shortage.

“We have measures in place to hire and to replenish our driver pool to make sure that we are able to continue to provide support,” said Gerard.