School Bus Driver Retention Program (DRP)
We are pleased to announce that funding has been received from the Ministry of Education for the Period #4 (September to December 2019) school bus driver bonus payments. The Period #4 bonus payments will be processed and posted for delivery to school bus drivers on or before July 17, 2020. All operators and drivers are kindly asked to be patient as Canada Post delivery times will vary with different locations in the province. Drivers who were submitted by their operators and approved to receive a Period #4 payment, should receive a cheque in early August 2020. It is each driver's responsibility to inform their employer of all address or name changes in order to ensure timely cheque delivery. Bus operators only may contact the DRP Call Centre to report changes of address or name after August 1, 2020. The DRP Call Centre cannot accept address or name changes directly from drivers. Please also note that The DRP Call Centre does not have any details about individual driver eligibility or about the outcome of an Exception Application Form. The purpose of the DRP Call Centre is to only provide general information about the DRP. Drivers must contact their employer to enquire about their eligibility for a bonus payment or the outcome of their Exception Application Form (DRP will advise employers about denied exception forms on or before July 10, 2020).
In partnership with the Ministry of Education, School Bus Ontario (SBO) is pleased to confirm, that Period #5 of the Driver Retention Program (DRP) will be proceeding. The eligibility criteria for Period #5 can be found here. With the exception of a change to Criteria #6 to clarify the 95% attendance requirement during COVID-19, the eligibility criteria is the same as was used for Period #4.
On August 30, 2019 the Ontario Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) and the Independent School Bus Operators Association (ISBOA) (now together as School Bus Ontario (SBO)) announced that the School Bus Driver Retention Program (DRP) would continue for the next two school terms (periods) – September 2019 to December 2019 and January 2020 to June 2020. Once again, eligible school bus drivers could receive up to two separate retention bonuses of $1,000 (less applicable taxes) for each term, based on continuous employment in each term. Eligibility criteria for bonus payments to school bus drivers, and all related claims and other DRP processes will remain the same as in previous periods.
In 2017, the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Education, committed up to $60 million dollars to fund three bonus payments directly to eligible school bus drivers for the January to June 2018, September to December 2018, and January to June 2019 school semesters as a reward for continuous employment within each period. The purpose of the bonuses is to enhance school bus driver recruitment and retention among school bus operators in the Province of Ontario. The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) is pleased to be administering this program (also referred to as the “DRP”) - an initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Education and other industry stakeholders.
To be eligible for the bonus payments, school bus drivers must meet the eligibility requirements including being employed by a school bus operator that provides to and from school student transportation services in Ontario for one or more of the prescribed Education Organizations including student transportation consortia, school boards, school authorities and provincial and demonstration schools identified by the Ministry of Education which can be viewed at this link.
Click here to view: School Bus Driver Eligibility Criteria
Click here to view: School Bus Driver Consent Form
Click here to view: Education Organizations
Bonuses (less applicable taxes) will be paid directly to eligible school bus drivers. PLEASE NOTE: DRP bonus payments are not an entitlement based only on past employment as a school bus driver. The purpose and intent of the DRP, as designed by the Ontario Ministry of Education, is to reward school bus drivers for meeting the eligibility criteria, including continuous employment during a payment period. The bonus payments are a financial incentive to stay on the job during the payment period, and are not automatic payments earned only by working historically as a school bus driver. A cheque will be mailed to each eligible school bus driver via Canada Post from a “Service Provider” (payroll company) hired by the Ministry of Education. The Service Provider will also mail T4A’s via Canada Post directly to each driver. Individual school bus drivers do not need to sign-up or register for the bonus payments, but they must complete a consent form and provide the consent form to their school bus operator employer.
Eligible school bus operator employers that participate in this program, will collate and verify information about their school bus drivers in order to submit a claims submission document for bonus payments. A program guide, tools, templates and training has been provided to support school bus operator employers with their submissions.
It is requested that drivers allow 30 days to receive a cheque before following up with their employer. Employers are aware of their eligible and non-eligible drivers and can advise of a driver's status. As previously noted, bonus payments to drivers are payable approximately 3 months after the end of each school period, however this is not guaranteed and could change based on various circumstances. This allows time for school bus drivers to submit Exception Application Forms to their school bus operator employers if required, for school bus operators to complete all their paperwork regarding the claims submission process, and for DRP to complete its review of the claims submissions and Exception Application Forms for over 17,000 school bus drivers.
When the eligibility criteria were announced on May 1, 2018, a number of concerns were raised about the 95% attendance criteria. OSBA and ISBOA discussed those concerns with the Ministry of Education and industry stakeholders. As a result, an exception process was created to ensure more widespread inclusion under the DRP. The Ministry of Education and industry stakeholders want to ensure that the largest number of school bus drivers as possible receive the driver retention bonus while still fulfilling the objectives and the parameters of the Program. To achieve this goal, certain exceptions were permitted. A school bus driver who meets all of eligibility criteria #1 to #5 but does not meet the minimum percentage of days worked (95% attendance) may be eligible for an exception in order to qualify for a bonus payment.
To request an exception, a school bus driver must apply by completing, signing and submitting the Exception Application Form to their school bus operator employer. In order to be considered for an exception, school bus drivers MUST complete Parts 1 to 3 of this form and return it to their school bus operator employer. PLEASE NOTE: Exception Application Forms are not required for absences within the allowable 5% - it will be assumed that any absence described in an Exception Application Form is over and above the allowable days. Any Exception Application Form that is incomplete in ANY way, will be denied (including sections requiring boxes to be checked and details under “Please specify”)
Please note that the Exception Application Form for Periods #1, #2 and #3 will NOT be accepted in Period #4. If any Period #1, #2 or #3 Exception Application Forms are submitted in Period #4, they will be automatically denied and the driver will NOT receive a bonus payment.
Click here to view: Exception Application Form
T4A’s have been mailed to all school bus drivers who received a bonus payment in Periods #1, #2 and #3. If a T4A has not been received as yet, drivers MUST contact their employer to verify their mailing address is correct. Employers will forward any address changes and follow up with the DRP Call Centre.
Click here to view: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
DRIVERS – Please do not contact the DRP Call Centre regarding the following items – Please contact your school bus operator employer only:
- Whether or not you will receive a bonus payment.
- Individual driver eligibility/non-eligibility or about individual Exception Application Forms.
- Change of mailing address – your employer will forward to the DRP Call Centre.
- If you do not receive a cheque within 30 days of the end of a school term, and your employer has advised that you are eligible to receive one, please contact your employer as they must follow up with the DRP Call Centre.
The purpose of the DRP Call Centre is to provide general information about the DRP only. The Call Centre does not have individual driver information about eligibility.