Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act showed Transport Canada considered enacting the rule sooner following the April 6 tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos.
The team was on its way to a playoff game when the bus and a semi-truck collided at a rural Saskatchewan intersection. Sixteen on board would die and 13 were injured. The truck driver faces dangerous driving charges.
Ottawa first proposed a seatbelt rule more than a year before the crash. The final regulation was announced earlier this month, but it won’t take effect until September 1, 2020.
Internal documents show that in the days following the collision, Transport Canada was thinking about rapidly implementing the seatbelt requirement.
The options included moving it up a year or having different in-force dates for large and medium buses.
Transport Canada decided to stick to the 2020 timeline.
It said Transport Canada heard that provinces need time to address issues around bus driver liability for child-restraint systems, as well as on standing passengers and unbelted minors.
The new rule applies to newly built buses. Ones already in operation are under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.
Transport Canada says it assumes anywhere from 25 to 75 per cent of buses are already equipped with seatbelts and the overall cost to equip the remainder is expected to be less than $1 million a year.
It has been found that seatbelts can reduce the probability of fatalities in a collision by 77 per cent in the event of a rollover and by 36 per cent in other types of collisions. -CINEWS