BC Liberal MLA Laurie Throness introduces bill to install seatbelts on school buses

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MLA for Chilliwack-Hope Laurie Throness. Photography by John Lehmann

Victoria: BC Liberal Childcare Critic Laurie Throness will introduce the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019 today, which would require all new school buses in B.C. to be equipped with seatbelts.

“Hundreds of thousands of kids take the bus to school every day and though the likelihood of an accident is small, events like the Humboldt tragedy and the bus crash near Port Alberni remind us that accidents can and do happen,” says Throness. “I hope the NDP will swiftly call the bill to debate or bring their own to the floor so that we can ensure the safety of our children remains a top priority.”

The bill would implement regulations already passed by Transport Canada that provide standards for the installation of seatbelts in school buses for provinces, school boards or companies that wish to do so. If passed, the bill would require any new school bus purchased for operation in B.C. after September 2021 to be equipped with seatbelts. It would not require the retrofit of existing buses, which would be very expensive for school boards.

Gary Lillico, a school bus driver who lives in Agassiz, B.C., has promoted the idea through a petition that calls on the province to take action. Gary spearheaded the petition a year ago that now bears 122,000 signatures.

“I have driven thousands of children to and from school,” comments Lillico. “Drivers like myself feel a strong personal responsibility for the safety of these children. I’m thankful to see MLA Throness work so closely with us to bring this bill forward.”