November 23, 2010
Hon. Chuck Strahl
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Tower C - 330 Sparks St.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Hon. Mr. Strahl:
Re: Safety review of 15 passenger vans
It has been nearly two months since we met in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the Council of Ministers of Transportation and Deputy Ministers of Transportation meeting (COM) and I am writing to say thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with our group.
We appreciate your commitment to improved student transportation safety and to that end we would like to confirm the content of our discussion that day. We would also like to receive an update on the status of the 15 passenger van safety review.
In that regard, at our meeting on Thursday, September 30, 2010 you committed to examine the following:
1. to recognize Multi Function Activity Buses (MFABs) as a sub-category of school buses.
2. to direct Transport Canada staff to make contact with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and take the necessary steps to recognize in
the federal standards the MFAB as a sub-category of school bus.
3. to develop a national approach to school transportation safety by requesting that the Provincial Ministers take the necessary steps to amend the Provincial Acts and Regulations to ban the use of 15-passenger vans as a mode of transportation for youth. This ban would include students participating in extra and co-curricular activities, day cares, pre-schools, youth clubs and organizations that are responsible for the provision of transportation to the youth of our communities.
4. to make recommendations on the use of licensed, Class 2 yellow school bus drivers behind the wheel of MFABs.
You also committed to:
1. Conduct a crash-worthiness test on 15 passenger vans.
2. Make the final report available to the public upon completion.
3. Keep us aware of any progress made on the 15 passenger safety review.
4. Appoint a political and a bureaucratic liasion from within the Federal Department of Transport to communicate directly with us about any progress on the file.
In regard to #4 above, I was in contact with your Chief of Staff, Laurie Throness, following the meeting in Halifax, however, I never did obtain the contact information for the bureaucratic liaison from the department so I would appreciate that information.
Further, I would also like to confirm your comments regarding Private Members Bill C-522 which was introduced in the House of Commons by MP Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst) on May 27, 2010. During our meeting in Halifax you mentioned that Mr. Godin's Bill would not likely be moving forward since the present solutions being proposed by your government to national school transportation safety preempt his proposed 15 passenger van legislation.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this long letter. I look forward to an update on the 15 passenger van safety review.
Yaprak Baltacioglu, Deputy Minister, Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Yvon Godin, Member of Parliament (Bathurst-Acadie)
Laurie Throness, Chief of Staff to the Minister of Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities
Hon. David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
Hon. Claude Williams, Minister, New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure
Hon. Robert Trevors, Minister, NB Department of Public Safety
Hon. Jody Carr, Minister, NB Department of Education
David J. Johnstone, Deputy Minister, NB Department of Transportation and Infrastructure
Marc Leger, Deputy Minister, NB Department of Public Safety
Roger Doucet, Deputy Minister, NB Department of Education
John Pearson, Program Director, Council Of Ministers and Deputy Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety
Steve Martin, President, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA)
Charles O'Donnell, Registrar, Motor Vehicle Branch, NB Department of Public Safety and Member of the Board of Directors, CCMTA
David White, Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
Ron Campbell, Girardin and CSA
Delalene Harris-Foran, President CUPE 1253, Miramichi, NB
Bryan Murphy, Safety Advocate, CUPE 606, Nanaimo, BC