School transportation necessary for rural students

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The wheels of the bus haven’t gone round and round since May 1, 2023 for thousands of students in the Pontiac and other regions of Quebec due to an ongoing strike between the school bus drivers and their employer. This has left students to find their own way to get to school for the past two months.

The Quebec Minister of Education office said that providing transportation to school to students is a privilege not a right. Well, M. Drainville, this perspective is simply untrue. Perhaps decades ago, when every small town had a small school hosting all grades, transportation may have been a “privilege”. In the modern world schools are larger and constructed in central locations to service many communities. As a result, some students have to travel over 70 km to school each morning. That is a commitment of over two hours each day to receive an education! Placing the onus on parents to drive their children would double that time commitment, travelling both in and out twice a day. This is unrealistic and unfair to those students who reside in rural areas. Some parents cannot afford the time commitment required, resulting in some kids not attending school at all.

  1. Drainville, does an extended strike with local transportation services help Canada meet its obligations to the United Nations under Article 28, Convention on the Rights of the Child, intended to make education available and accessible to every child? The answer is no.

Recently one local student, 15 year old Gabriel Deschenes drew attention to his plight by paddling his kayak to school from his home in Rapides des Joachims to Pembroke; it took him 3 days. Gabriel believes that proper transportation is essential to his right to an education and hopes to draw attention to the issue and expedite a resolution.  Hopefully, M. Drainville, Gabriel’s adventure will not be shared by future students as well.

This story should inspire you and make you think twice, M. Drainville about your involvement in this strike before sending all responsibilities to M. Boulet, Minister of Labour. What would you do, M. Drainville if your privileged access to a vehicle to conduct your duties was taken away from you? Would you paddle to work?

Annie Morin
Rapides des Joachim