The Newfoundland and Labrador government has launched an overhaul of the province's school bus system that is expected to boost safety standards.


Education Minister Clyde Jackman said safety is the top priority in a forthcoming review of the province's school bus system. (CBC )

The government is looking for consultants to begin work on an update of school bus policies and guidelines.

The announcement happened to come on the heels of a widely publicized protest involving Swift Current parents and students, whose complaints about planned busing to Clarenville led to the Eastern School District cancelling a school closure.

Education Minister Clyde Jackman said the government wants to improve services, but within financial reason. "First and foremost [the priority must] be safety. Second, are we getting the best service that we can for the $48 million that we are putting into it?" Jackman said.

The consultants will be asked to review all aspects of school busing, including the use of video surveillance on vehicles.

The Federation of School Councils worries that the government has emphasized making improvements within existing budgets.

"If the consultants come back and say to provide this type of service, you require this amount of money, I mean it's not something that we're going to dismiss," Jackman said. "I don't want to prejudge what's gonna come out of this."

NDP education critic Dale Kirby said more voices need to be heard beyond the consultants hired for the review. "The government talks a lot about the need for public consultations when it comes to changes in regulations and policy. We hope that they will honour that," he said.

Jackman said the consultant will be instructed to get in touch with as many stakeholders as possible.