Ontario recognizes truck driving as a skilled trade

by James Menzies

TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario trucking industry has finally been recognized as a skilled trade by the province, thanks largely to the creation of the industry’s first apprenticeship program. The program – which has been two years in the making – involves 12 weeks of training with a mentor followed by up to 40 weeks of on-the-job work experience.

During the training period apprentices will learn how to: plan trips and inspect equipment; safely handle and secure cargo; conduct routine vehicle checks; and prepare documentation including bills of lading, border crossing and Customs forms. It’s expected about 1,500 apprentices will go through the program each year. So far nearly 40 carriers have expressed their support for the program.

A valid A/Z licence and a minimum Grade 10 education are required for acceptance into the program.

Chris Bentley, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, made the announcement at the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) convention in November.

“It’s time we recognize what a contribution you make,” Bentley told delegates at the OTA convention. “Without your efforts how would we ever feed the plants that rely on commercial goods?”

Bentley admitted that government has been slow to recognize the fact truck driving is a highly-skilled profession.

“You’ve recognized the demands of those who transport goods, but government has been a bit behind,” he told OTA delegates. “Finally, government is recognizing the position that professional truck driver is a skilled profession.”

Bentley then hopped in a tractor-trailer and was driven back to his London riding by an OTA Road Knight. OTA president, David Bradley, was quick to praise the Minister for helping get the apprenticeship program off the ground.

“For the first time the government has recognized that a truck driver is a skilled profession, not an unskilled worker,” said Bradley. “This is a big step forward for the industry.”

However, Bentley was quick to point out it was an industry-driven initiative. Training schools, insurance companies and carriers all worked feverishly for nearly two years to bring the program to fruition.

“Nothing but positive things can come forth from this announcement,” said Tom Philips of TST Truckload Express. “This represents an opportunity to attract a new generation to our industry.”

The hope is that with the career of professional driver being recognized as a skilled trade, the career will be more appealing to young people. Earning a Certificate of Apprenticeship will separate the quality, skilled drivers from those who obtained their A/Z licence through a licensing mill.

Lisa Arseneau of Kimberley & Associates Insurance Brokers says the program will also make it easier for fleets to get young drivers insured. While she says it’s a myth that you must be 25 years of age to get insured to drive a truck, she acknowledged young drivers who complete the apprenticeship program will have an easier time getting insured.

“The obstacles of eligibility and age concerns will no longer be huge obstacles,” said Arseneau.

Another key member behind the scenes is Kim Richardson of KRTS Transportation Specialists. He’s confident there will be a noticeable “betterment of the industry” within three to five years, thanks to the program.

“We need to legitimize the profession and this helps us get there,” Richardson said. He added the program has become a reality with no start-up funding from the government.”We never obtained one nickel from the government and we made it happen,” said an exuberant Richardson. “We as an industry did it.”

Some delegates at the OTA session voiced their desire to have the acquisition of the A/Z licence incorporated into the program. It’s an option that hasn’t been ruled out, according to Clark Wilson of Fanshawe College.

A Web site has been set up so people can offer suggestions and voice concerns. It can be viewed at www.drive4apprenticeship.com.

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  • 667 moyer road
    Great news for the up and coming apprentices of trucking,
    But i can see a ugly return on the dollar for the professional truck driver that has been trucking for decades,as companies hire tens of thousands of new comers to the industry ,paying them less money and pushing out the drivers that have been trucking for years,and years for the cheaper new apprentices.Any opportunity for a business to hire cheaper labor ,especially trucking because of the very small margins involved,they will do it.All i can say is thank god i have ten years left in this not so nice business.

    • They’re doing that in every other trade. Especially that Youth Apprenticeship Program. Ya it’s nice for high school kids but allows companies to use them for free, lost jobs for people already in the field.

  • What about those already in the profession? Do we get grandfathered in and receive a skilled trade certificate? Gow about a standard pay rate for a red seal trade that goes for the entire province? It should have a minimum base pay like the remaining red seal trades.

  • All good things being said but I smell a big cash grab by Ont collages and skill trades I for one don’t need to pay more for something I have had for over 30 years bad enough the government keeps jumping the price of renewing

  • The government already sold this industry out to non trained professionals…rates and wages need to come up, if they did those of us that have been professional drivers for many years might get back into the trade! The rate per hour back in 1986 when I got my AZ was $17/hr, I’m seeing $18/hr on the job banks..seriously? And they wonder why there is a driver shortage.

  • This could mean great things for this industry and the professional drivers already in it. I hoping that is what this was about and to have properly trained drivers as so many new drivers show too much unprofessionalism on the roads in Ontario. I have concerns on who this is about though.

  • This job is an essential skilled trades that move freight from (point a to point b)

    This subject needs to be addressed to the honorable Mr. Justin Trudeau, our current prime minister.

    This subject should have been brought up when mr. Trudeau was looking for votes a few months ago.

    Now, I am sure that if all Truckers team up/came together and unite this wonderful skilledTrade, as a professional experienced Heavy Haul Operator. we would reached very far and received a great result.

    This skilledtrades profession, need to be released as a professional career so that we can attracted our Canadian young people who are living at home with there parents and can’t find a job that they would enjoy.

    The only thing that this profession does not move is “babes” Evidence : everything from toilet paper, to everything else on the planet this skills trade moves.

    Therefore, it is time for all skilled Trades professional, operator to come together and unit as one.
    Let us join the Ontario colleges of Trades and universities. To make this skilledtrades profession. Great again.

    We should also joined a reputable collectivebarging until to represent us as a skilled trade professional.

    We could start off to pay the union at least 26 – $30 per month. This individual industry, will have a positive impact on our income. So, that we can live a better life. In today’s economy with inflation rates of upto 5% per year, is killing us, and should not turned a blind eye on this matter. Evidence : we are all suffering from the above mentioned.

    Evidence : we need proper treatment, jobs security, bonuses, pension plans, and much more. Additionally, developed education, curriculum, and a prerequisite, for this job as a commercial operator.

    Evidence : we need to start the process this matter efficiently and immediately folks.

    Tony, hwy operator.

  • Wow! Being recognized as a skilled trade? If I hired a plumber who installed plumbing in my house as poorly as I see professional truck drivers driving on the highway, I would fire him/her and report them to whoever you report to. I see left lane bandit truck drivers, arrogance when they see you are about to pass and they pull out in front of you and block you for kilometers, ride in the passing lane when they aren’t passing anyone, riding the middle lane like they own it (keep right except to pass, remember!!!), seem to be the cause of many (most?) serious accidents on the highway, and the list goes on! I realize this is not all truck drivers, but it seems to be the VAST majority these days. Recognized as a professional trade – you must be joking.