Ottawa Safety Council facing crossing guard shortage as school begins
As the upcoming school year draws closer, the Ottawa Safety Council (OSC) is facing a crossing guard shortage, prompting concerns about student safety this fall.
Crossing guards play an important role in keeping the most vulnerable road users, children, safe in school zones. The OSC employes over 300 crossing guards in the nation’s capital.
According to data from the City of Ottawa’s annual safety reports, in the period between 2016 to 2020, there were 27 fatalities involving pedestrians. In 2020 alone, there were 195 reported road collisions resulting in injuries to pedestrians, with two fatalities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to have a detrimental effect by creating significant staffing shortages for the OSC’s crossing guard program throughout the year. This, in addition to rising gas prices and individuals seeking different types of jobs outside of the service industry, have been the key reasons for the challenges the OSC is facing with its recruitment of crossing guards. For over 21 years, the OSC has been delivering the School Crossing Guard Program for the City of Ottawa, and deploys over 300crossing guards across the city at over 270 school zone intersections.
The OSC’s crossing guards help create safer school zones across the four school boards in Ottawa. This directly impacts 150 schools. Every year, the OSC’s crossing guards conduct about four million safe crossings.
Being a crossing guard is the perfect job for people who want to make a difference in the community, and for those simply looking for a ‘side hustle,’ such as retirees, students, and gig workers.
Over 60 percent of the OSC’s crossing guards have been with the OSC for over three years. The OSC offers a competitive wage with a starting rate of $19.60 per hour with no evening or weekend work.
Dagmar Horsman, a crossing guard since 2013, says, “You start your mornings with ‘good mornings’ and ‘thank yous’ and over time you feel yourself becoming part of the fabric of the community. It’s a great feeling when people’s faces light up when they see you, and you’re told you were missed after an absence.”
Help the OSC keep children safe by helping us get the word out about this important and rewarding part-time job in the community. Find out more at www.crossing-guard.ca.
This article was submitted by Jamie Kwong, executive director of the Ottawa Safety Council.