School Crossing Guard Program
The School Crossing Guard program provides supervised road crossings at approximately 660 designated locations across Toronto each school day. It is one of a series of Vision Zero initiatives aimed at ensuring safety of children as they travel to and from school.
The School Crossing Guard program is a long-standing one which has been operated by the Toronto Police Service (TPS). During the 2018/2019 school year, the TPS continues to have responsibility for the hiring and provision of crossing guards at all designated locations and to manage the administration of the program.
As part of the implementation of its modernization plan, The Way Forward, the TPS and the City are engaged in the transition of the School Crossing Guard Program to Toronto Transportation Services division, so those police officers can better fulfill their core policing duties. As part of the transition of the program to the City of Toronto, starting this school year (2018/2019), Toronto Police Service no longer provides uniform police officers to backfill unforeseen day-to-day absences for school crossing guards who are unable to attend work.
The City worked with the TPS to contract an independent security service provider (Neptune Security Services) for relief coverage when a regular crossing guard is unexpectedly absent from work. The contractor originally planned for the backfilling of guards, based on TPS absentee data for school crossing guards, which indicated that approximately 20 to 40 crossing guards could be expected to absent from work each school day. Currently, absentee rates are much higher than indicated by the data. So far this school year, the absentee rate of regular crossing guards has been in the range of approximately 90 to more than 100 each day.
The City is working closely with Toronto Police to understand why the number of daily absences has risen. The safety of students is everyone’s priority; the City, TPS and the contracted security service are committed to doing everything possible to address this matter as quickly as possible and to ensure that daily absences will be filled. This is unlike in previous years when uniformed officers were often called away from backfilling crossing guard absences to deal with other policing duties.
To date, City staff and the contracted security company have worked together to accelerate staff training and increase the number of available contracted staff to backfill for daily TPS guard absences. Levels have increased from 40 available resources to an expected 80 by September 13, with an additional 20 expected to be trained and brought on board within the next week. Contracted guards undergo the same screening processes and training as current TPS School Crossing Guards.