The wheels on the bus go round and round at Yukon government cabinet table
Documents obtained by the Yukon NDP under access to information law show that the Yukon Party government was aware of significant contractual shortfalls by its now former school bus contractor, Takhini Transport, as early as two years ago. Government non-answers in the Yukon legislature to Yukon NDP questions about Takhini Transport’s ability to safely and reliably bring Yukon children to school raise even more questions about their ability to deal with contractors.
The documents, which include the results of a 2014 investigation by Apex Investigative Services and a letter to Takhini Transport from former deputy minister of education Valerie Royle, detail a number of significant contractual shortfalls by the contractor. Royle begins by telling the company that “[f]urther to the letter sent on August 15, 2013… we are writing to notify you that Watson Lake Bus Lines Ltd., operating as Takhini Transport, has again failed to meet a number of terms in the School Bus Services – Whitehorse, Yukon contract.” Some of the breaches noted by Royle include failures to provide basic documentation for drivers such as RCMP background checks, driver abstracts and first aid certificates and to have their buses serviced by certified bus mechanics.
“The Yukon Party government has known for two years that there have been serious problems with their school bus contractor. Why were our children allowed to get on those buses for so long? With only a month to go before school starts, this government is showing once again that it cannot responsibly manage contracts,” said Yukon NDP highways and public works critic Lois Moorcroft. “These documents confirm that the government lost control of their relationship with Takhini Transport, and it took them almost a year to realize that the company couldn’t hold up their end of the contract.”
The Yukon NDP has been a vocal critic of the deal – especially following Takhini Transport’s refusal to negotiate with its drivers following a successful unionization campaign and Whitehorse parents’ creation of a Facebook group to share their problems with poor service.
“It is increasingly disappointing to have to rely on access to information laws for answers to our questions,” added Moorcroft. “Yesterday, it was internal government documents on their controversial Whistle Bend continuing care facility. When will the government put an end to this shameful secretive streak? Yukoners deserve better.”
Photo: deanhochman / flickr. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.