Mandatory entry-level driver training officially introduced

by Truck News

TORONTO, Ont. – Starting July 1, 2017, Ontario drivers who want to take the Class A road test will first be required to successfully complete a mandatory entry-level training course.

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is applauding the June 28 announcement made by the province’s transportation minister, Stephen Del Duca, who the association said made good on a commitment shortly after becoming minister in 2014, three years after the OTA first proposed the measure to the provincial government.

“By being the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce mandatory entry-level training for tractor-trailer drivers, Ontario is leading the way in further improving highway safety and helping the industry ensure it has an adequate supply of consistently trained, quality new drivers in the future,” said OTA CEO David Bradley, who stood with the minister at today’s announcement in Brampton. “This is a game-changer. The days of basically being able to walk in off the street and take the tractor-trailer test with no training whatsoever are over.”

Bradley said there were a number of reasons the OTA wanted to see mandatory entry-level training implemented, including a lack of consistency in the basic level of driving competency in recently licensed Class A drivers.

“There are good schools producing good candidates, but at the other end of the spectrum there are the licence mills which are providing just enough instruction to pass the test,” Bradley said. “Simply getting the Class A licence has not been a sufficient indicator that a person has the basic skills that a carrier can then mold into a professional truck driver.”

The Private Motor Truck Council (PMTC) also lauded the new mandatory requirements.

“This standard will ensure that all drivers who wish to obtain a Class A license in Ontario will have meet or exceeded minimum entry-level training standards prior to being able to challenge the road test at a drive test center,” said PMTC president Mike Millian. “The PMTC was one of several stakeholders who attended many consultation meetings arranged by the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) to frame the new standards that will be released in the next few days. The MTO and its team are to be congratulated for their Industry engagement throughout this entire process.

The OTA said the bar would soon be raised for those looking to acquire their Class A licence – details to be released next week – to help bring it more in line with the new standard.

“Everyone, from the CTA (Canadian Trucking Alliance) Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage, to the Conference Board of Canada, to just about everyone else in the industry, has identified the fact that tractor-trailer driving is erroneously classified as a low-skill occupation, which acts as a barrier to attracting people to the job,” Bradley said. “Mandatory entry-level training is an essential step in changing that perception and the classification.

“We have pretty good idea of what the standard will look like. And, given the level of input from industry – including carriers, drivers, insurance companies, training schools and safety organizations – we are in strong support.”

Work is also underway with the Ontario College of Trades to bring its apprenticeship program in line with the new standards.

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  • This is amazing news and a sea change for Ontario. The certified driver schools should do very well. On the other hand, we could see a drop in people entering the trade further exasperating the shortage…how much will the course cost, I’d estimate $5,000 to $10,000.

  • Changing the “Perception of the Classification” does not change the classification by legal interpretations. It may serve to bolster the identity of a job that is measured by nothing more than endurance.
    “Professional driver” is still defined on the web as “Someone who gets paid to drive for a living.” There is no distinction from the cab driver to the transport truck and still not a legal classification.
    This is good news, but the decades of low to no training followed immediately by the highest scrutiny has unfairly baited new drivers to fail. I guess you could say its just one of the many ways “We eat our own.”

  • Private trainers and friends are still among the best mentors. That’s how my generation learned, started driving early and often, someone showed you how to drive tractor trailer and they were usually pretty good (or drunk and asleep in the bench seat beside you).

  • My course ran 2 months, cost about $8800.00 with books etc, and was in excess of the proposed requirements. It was almost double the proposed MELT requirements

    I landed a job with the carrier of my choice right out of school who told me that many applicants come from the “drive by night” schools and do not have enough skill to be hired. They have a licence but the application is shredded because it takes far too long to bring them up to the minimum standard required.

    My school was one of 8 Professional Truck Driving Institute approved schools in Ontario and that is what the carriers are looking for, qualified candidates from good reputable schools.