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Higher learning: Ontario school fights to boost the norm

ALFRED, Ont. - The Canadian Trucking Academy isn't a new player in the arena of truck driver training, however, it is taking steps to move out of relative obscurity and gain the respect it deserves.Ba...


IF I HAD A HAMMER: Cadieux and Traynor watch as the Canadian Trucking Academy's new building takes shape.(Photo by John Curran)
IF I HAD A HAMMER: Cadieux and Traynor watch as the Canadian Trucking Academy's new building takes shape.(Photo by John Curran)

ALFRED, Ont. – The Canadian Trucking Academy isn’t a new player in the arena of truck driver training, however, it is taking steps to move out of relative obscurity and gain the respect it deserves.

Based just east of Ottawa on Hwy. 17 in Alfred, Ont., the school is owned and operated by Dominique Cadieux. He says he drove his first truck at age nine when his father first started trucking and even did his first trip across the border as a 12-year-old.

“I drove across the 1,000 Island Bridge while my uncle was asleep in the back,” he says remembering fondly. Cadieux has been training drivers since he was legal behind the wheel and now hopes to take a more prominent place just outside Canada’s capital district.

He’s in the process of building a 40-foot by 80-foot building – to replace the construction trailer that has served as home since moving out of an Orleans office several years ago.

“We’ve got a 92 per cent pass rate on the practical test and that’s the highest of any school east of Kingston,” says a proud Cadieux. “I’ve always been able to teach the driving side very well … but to put me in a classroom – I’d go crazy.”

Mind you, the new school – in addition to boasting two indoor inspection bays and a great deal more office space – has a 225-square-foot classroom.

Enter Bernie Traynor; Cadieux has hired him to deliver the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council’s in-class courses, which are part of the group’s Earning Your Wheels program.

How the two joined forces was a bit of a fluke. Traynor had returned to the area after living around Toronto for some time and he had gone through the initial steps of opening his own school.

“I’m not bilingual so it would have been a very tough go,” admits Traynor. “In this area you’re talking about 80 per cent French and 20 per cent English.”

Despite this obvious disadvantage, he had planned to forge on ahead until getting a chance to sit down and really talk to Cadieux.

“We realized that we shared very similar ideas about training and decided to go together and have one strong school instead of having two half-ass operations in the same area,” says Traynor.

Together, the two have launched the academy on a quest to become a private vocational school to solve at least part of the cash-crunch facing prospective students.

“Funding has been our main headache lately,” says Traynor. “You try to put out the best program you can, but how can you do that without funding.”

Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) will help students with the cost – but only if they are receiving Employment Insurance and have a signed letter guaranteeing them a job on graduation day.

“In many cases the only people who even qualify for funding by HRDC are those who see this as a way to top up their employment time to get more benefits,” complains Traynor. Cadieux has secured letters from Unique Personnel Service and two fleets praising both the school and its grads, which promise to interview any future students upon graduation. But that isn’t good enough for HRDC.

“But who is going to guarantee a job before the person has their licence,” says Traynor. “I’ve been in the industry for decades and I don’t have a guaranteed job.”

Once the school is certified as a private vocational school – a process that will cost about $1,785 up front and an additional $1,000 annually – the Bank of Montreal’s Brain Money program will open up to the school’s prospective students.

The Canadian Trucking Academy’s plight is not one it faces alone; however, neither man wishes to align with an association at this time.

“I would join a group like the Ontario Trucking Association, they get things done for their members,” says Traynor.

“These other associations can scream until they’re blue in the face but so far I haven’t seen a lot accomplished.”

Mind you, once an association proves to them that it has the influence needed to sway government they say they would gladly pay their dues and join. n


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