The Town of Newmarket has lost its crossing guard contractor for the remainder of the school year after the company filed for bankruptcy last week.
Neptune Security Services filed for bankruptcy May 18, according to a release from debt corporation Spergel Corporate, resulting in the termination of all employees. The same day, Newmarket announced the contractor failed to staff 10 locations it was assigned to for crossing guards, with the town having its staff cover the locations.
Newmarket CAO Ian McDougall said the town terminated its contract with Neptune and is looking for other options for the remainder of the school year.
“We moved very quickly to fill the gaps with staff members in other roles stepping in to ensure all locations had coverage,” he said. “All Town of Newmarket crossing guard locations are currently covered and will continue to be covered without further disruption."
Neptune, a company that had contracts at all levels of government, had reports of issues for several months leading up to its bankruptcy. It faced a corporate integrity review last September in Quebec by the Autorité des marchés publics (AMP), which oversees public contracts in the province, according to court records.
After investigation, AMP filed to revoke Neptune’s authority to have contracts with public bodies March 27, and the two have been in a legal dispute since, leading up to the May 18 bankruptcy filing.
Teamsters Canada sent a news release in March that Neptune owed $300,000 to its guards at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre in Quebec.
Neptune had a three-year federal contract for the centre but was removed from the contract for failing to manage it properly, according to Teamsters Canada.
“I find it ridiculous that a shady outfit like Neptune was able to secure an important federal security contract,” Teamsters Canada president François Laporte said in March.
NewmarketToday did not receive a reply to a request for comment from Neptune before publication deadline.
Neptune was the winning bidder for Newmarket’s crossing contract in August 2022. The contract was for the duration of the school year, Sept. 7 to June 2023.
Despite Newmarket having its own contingent of crossing guard staff, McDougall said recruitment challenges prompted it to contract out some locations.
“Crossing guard positions have always been a challenge to recruit and retain due to many factors. In an effort to ensure coverage at all crossing locations, the town issued a request for proposal to seek a contractor to assist with 10 crossing guard locations, as a complement to town staff,” McDougall said.
One local town crossing guard recently quit her position, citing inconsiderate and unsafe drivers and a desire for more support from the town.
Still, the town openly recruits for crossing guards year round, McDougall said.
“The town always welcomes and encourages residents and community members to apply for our crossing guard positions,” he said. “Being a crossing guard is very rewarding and contributes to the safety of our young community.”
The crossing guard posting is available through the newmarket.ca website, with the town currently offering between $17.48 - $18.54 per hour.