Union says New Brunswick roads not safe enough for school buses in wake of winter storm

Union says New Brunswick roads not safe enough for school buses in wake of winter storm

January 24, 2019

After a pair of days off for many students across New Brunswick, it was back to class on Wednesday.

But the union representing bus drivers says buses and bus drivers shouldn’t have to take any chances.

“If they (school districts) want to open schools, that’s fine,” says Brien Watson, who is the CUPE 1253 president. “That’s fine, open schools… But in road conditions like this, they need to keep the buses off the roads.”

Watson says he’s encouraging drivers to use their “right to refuse.”

Watson says buses need to be called off the roads in these conditions.

“I’m trying to encourage them all at all times, that there is a right to refuse,” he says. “It is legislation in this province and they need to use that.”

He points to a pair of school buses that got stuck on roads outside of the Saint John area on Wednesday.

“There was one bus where staff of the school had to come down and walk the children back because they were almost at the school,” he says.

“But the bus was completely across the road, and until the sand trucks could get there and help them out, these students were in jeopardy that way.”

Watson says at least two buses got stuck outside of the Saint John area on Wednesday.

While some parents like Erin Breau Gillis say it wasn’t safe for buses to travel, there’s also another angle to consider — those making the call whether schools open or close each morning.

“I think that it’s hard for the school district because they seem to lose no matter which way they call it,” she says. “They call it off, then people complain. They call it on, people complain.”

Watson says all decisions relating to the safety of students and drivers need to be made carefully.

“All districts have to stop and think,” he says. “We’re not hauling groceries here, we’re hauling children; our future… Our sons, our daughters.”

Another storm day was on the mind of Andy Caissie, who was picking up a family friend’s son.

“I know a lot of parents will complain, but to my opinion, there should have been another,” he says. “You call it a snow day, but today would be an ice day.”

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