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Good Ontario Class A Drivers Deserve A Break

On Dec. 12, 2006, the Ontario government made the arbitrary and discriminatory practice of enforced retirement at age 65 illegal. As the Minister of Labour said at the time, "your skills, ability, dri...




On Dec. 12, 2006, the Ontario government made the arbitrary and discriminatory practice of enforced retirement at age 65 illegal. As the Minister of Labour said at the time, “your skills, ability, drive and determination do not stop once you turn 65. (This legislation) recognizes that those who are 65 and older should enjoy the same right to earn a living, and contribute to society, as those who are younger.” Unfortunately, the Ministry of Transportation continues to discriminate against commercial drivers who turn 65 by requiring them to pass an annual road and written commercial driver’s licence test. OTA has called upon MTO to eliminate this needless and costly requirement.

Currently any driver with a Class A licence is required to:

• Meet the medical requirements when first obtaining a licence; every five years thereafter until reaching the age of 45; every three years thereafter until reaching the age of 65; and annually thereafter;

• Demonstrate knowledge of the rules of the road when first obtaining a licence; every five years thereafter until reaching the age of 65; and annually thereafter;

• Demonstrate ability to operate a commercial vehicle when first obtaining the licence; when reaching the age of 65, but not before; and annually thereafter;

• Pass an initial written and practical test to obtain a “Z” endorsement to operate a commercial vehicle equipped with air brakes; a written test (no practical test even though the practical test has been significantly upgraded in recent years) is required every year thereafter to coincide with the renewal of the “A”licence until reaching the age of 65; and both a written and practical test annually thereafter.

The rules change significantly when a driver reaches the age of 65 and it is forcing good full-time, part-time and casual Class A drivers to exit the industry before they are ready to retire. Those drivers that reach the age of 65 and still want to continue their careers are generally good drivers and serve as excellent role models and mentors, and it is unfortunate that this difficulty they encounter in keeping their licence past age 65 forces many of them into unwanted, forced, retirement. Why? It is extremely onerous for many of these drivers to acquire the necessary equipment, namely a tractor and trailer, to be able to take the practical road test.

Ontario is far more stringent than any other North American jurisdiction in this regard. No other jurisdiction has a similar requirement, yet drivers from those jurisdictions operate on Ontario highways every day. The selection of the age of 65 is arbitrary, probably based on the historic normal retirement age, and discriminates on the basis of age.

OTA recognizes that MTO has a responsibility to ensure the highest standards of public safety. OTA has never shrunk from advocating that Ontario have the toughest safety rules or from calling upon MTO to take the lead in promoting best practices where there is reason to believe that a particular policy will enhance road safety. However, in this case there is no evidence to justify the policy. There is no requirement in the National Safety Code for a driver to take a practical road test when reaching the age of 65. However, we are aware that while a driver’s skills and knowledge don’t deteriorate, there are grounds to be concerned about the physical condition of older drivers.

As a result, OTA has developed a proposal which adequately balances the need for vigilance on the safety front while at the same time providing appropriate relief for drivers over the age of 65.

The proposal, first made in 2006 is that: A driver would be required to prove medical fitness every year after reaching the age of 65; the renewal period for a commercial driver’s licence upon reaching the age of 65 should be two years until the driver reaches the age of 71, and annually thereafter; and upon renewal the driver would be required to pass the normal written examination and the written air brake examination.

The driver would also be required to take a practical road examination and a practical air brake examination unless in the previous two years the driver has no more than: five demerit points; one preventable accident (as shown on the driver’s CVOR abstract); and, one CVSA out-of-service condition (as shown on the driver’s CVOR record).

OTA believes this proposal would more properly balance safety concerns with the reality of older commercial drivers. So far MTO has not adopted our proposed policy or made any other changes to the annual requirements for Class A drivers who attain the age of 65 or more.

Still, every week I hear from drivers who are at or near 65, that want to keep working but are finding the annual renewal requirements to be onerous.

These drivers deserve to be heard. As a result, OTA has created a tool on our Web site (www.ontruck.org)which allows drivers to easily identify who their MPP is, and retrieve the e-mail or mailing address so they can contact their MPP directly. We also provide a draft letter drivers can use as they see fit and an OTA briefing note on the issue. We encourage all drivers to participate and are asking carriers to make their drivers aware of this new tool.

– David Bradley is president of the OTA and chief executive officer of the CTA.


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1 Comment » for Good Ontario Class A Drivers Deserve A Break
  1. Norm Burke says:

    Just a money grab by the province. Some of your best drivers are the senior fellows.

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