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OSTA will not compensate parents for school bus cancellations


The authority that manages school buses for Ottawa's English public and catholic school boards will not be compensating parents and guardians paying to transport their children to school after a bus cancellation.

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority said a $6.5 million deficit means they cannot afford to compensate parents, even with repurposed savings.

The OSTA is facing a driver shortage, which has led to increased cancellations and frustration among parents.

"Due to the driver shortage, OSTA does save some money through withheld payments for services not provided," an OSTA statement said.

"However, the OSTA board of directors is repurposing those withheld payments to fund other solutions that result in new, available drivers from other transportation operators in the Ottawa region."

The shortage is hitting those in rural areas hard. Some parents are out thousands of dollars in lost wages taking their kids to school themselves.

"There's no end in sight so it's continuing to add up and then hearing that there's no plans for compensation from OSTA it's disappointing," said parent Cheri Nixon.

"They're spending upwards of three hours a day, because they've got to spend an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half in the evening. That works out to maybe 15 hours a week they're not at work," Nixon added.

"We've spoken to OSTA, we've been speaking to MPPs, we've spoken to councillors, we keep telling them that it's an issue, that parents are struggling financially, they're struggling with their mental health and we just keep hitting a wall. I mean there's progress but it's slow."

The organization said Monday that it is working to bolster the number of school bus drivers in the capital and said it still has a shortage of 50 bus drivers.

The OSTA said they encourage families experiencing crisis situations to contact their school principals who can work with them to help address individual concerns.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Katie Griffin. Top Stories

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