Between 90 to 100 crossing guards are absent a day, city says
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2019 8:20PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2019 8:32PM EST
The City of Toronto said it is looking to employ multiple security companies in order to provide an emergency backfill of crossing guards due to a shortage of between 90 to 100 employees a day.
There are 660 locations covered by the school crossing guard program in Toronto, and since the school year started in September, the security company that deals with filling the positions has only been able to replace 70 to 80 per cent of the absentees.
“This is not full-time work and turnover rates for these positions seem to be higher than average. City staff are working closely with Neptune Security Service to keep the staffing levels up and ensure that properly trained staff are available,” a spokesperson for the city said in a statement.
The situation has left city councilor Jaye Robinson frustrated. She said she passed a motion last month at city council to review and correct the issue.
"We were promised this would be corrected at the beginning of the New Year. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, so we're pushing hard to have that done within the next week or so."
Parents with students who go to a school in the area of Mount Pleasant Road and Ranleigh Avenue, just north of Lawrence Avenue, said there is significant concern about morning traffic.
"Mount Pleasant, in the last 12 years we've lived here, has become a major alternative to Yonge Street and myself and my family have almost been hit three times in the past year,” Steve Wilson said.
Parents said that despite the traffic, there isn’t always a crossing guard on duty.
In the past, the Toronto Police Service would fill absent positions with uniformed officers, but the responsibility was transferred to the city’s transportation department.
“We are in transition and because of that some of the communication wasn’t overly effective in identifying the number of crossing guards they needed, so we weren’t properly equipped. So now you are seeing the shortfall, coupled with people calling in sick,” Robinson said.
“This is an essential service that we provide as a city and it's unacceptable that there's not a crossing guard in place every day to help those children get to and from school.”
The city has issued a Request for Proposal and hopes to select up to four companies that will help provide school crossing guard services for Toronto.
On Wednesday, parents in the area of Mount Pleasant Road and Ranleigh Avenue were relieved to see that a crossing guard was working at the intersection.
“Today we have a crossing guard again,” one parent said. “My faith in humanity has been restored.”
With files from CTV News Toronto's Janice Golding