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Alberta’s professional driver certificate program in limbo

RED DEER, Alta. -- Alberta's long-awaited Professional Driver Certificate Pilot Program appears on the brink of dem...

RED DEER, Alta. — Alberta’s long-awaited Professional Driver Certificate Pilot Program appears on the brink of demise due to the province’s refusal to include a Class 1 licence as part of the training program.

The program, offered in partnership with Red Deer College and driving schools throughout the province, has been unable to attract sufficient interest from students.

According to Dennis McCarty, PDC program chair, “I have talked to many students and companies who want to enter and support the program but when they find out that it doesn’t include the Class 1 licence and as the result the student is unable to earn a wage for the majority of the 20-plus weeks, they don’t sign up.”

He added: “Students that we have recruited to the post Class 1 program have been very happy with the quality of training that they have received. Reports that we are getting from the carriers are that they are very impressed with these students and the level of training we are getting through this program and would like to continue taking students from this program.”

The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA), Transportation Training & Development Association and other organizations have filed a proposal to the province to modify the course to include the Class 1 licence and shorten the program to 12 weeks eight weeks of theory and four weeks of a supervised practicum under a coach or mentor. Adding the Class 1 component would allow students to qualify for Employment Insurance funding, similar to an apprenticeship program.

As a result, the student would not have to go without income for an extended period of time, the AMTA explains on its Web site. Also, a carrier would have a trained driver after 12 weeks. The AMTA reports some independent driving schools have opposed the proposed changes, citing unfair competition.

“We are not sure why this is an issue as any driving school can go through the process of becoming accredited to provide the training which meets the national standard for the industry,” the AMTA responded. The association said if the program fails, it will be a huge step backwards for the industry.

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