VANCOUVER, B.C. — A B.C. fleet has spoken out in support of driver training school Mountain Transport Institute’s attempts to have the provincial government remove a $4,000 funding cap for entry-level drivers.
The tuition cap, MTI argues, pushes entry-level drivers into training schools with low standards, resulting in poorly-trained drivers. B.C. fleet Coastal Pacific Xpress agrees the tuition cap should be revisited, according to manager Jim Mickey, who vows the company “will not hire $4,000 drivers.”
“The withdrawal of substantial financial training support from government all but guarantees further erosion in the quality and quantity of professionals employed in the critical field of over-the-road transport, since no one trucking organization has the motivation to undertake this initiative on its own just to serve the needs of the industry and society as a whole,” Mickey contends. “If we do not have a sufficient supply of drivers, we will have a crippled supply chain that fails to support our normal life needs; or if we expect to continue to employ similar numbers of drivers we will witness a gradual deterioration in the safety of our highways due to a willful acceptance of lower qualifications and lessened levels of career skill development among the industry participants.”
Mickey continued: “We cannot ‘half train’ a driver by investing half the money. We can train half the number of drivers, but we cannot realistically cut the training in half to keep up the numbers but reduce the investment in each one of them. Imagine if we transfer this thought to an airline pilot…would we really propose to reduce the training by half or more, just to meet a budget constraint? How about doctors? A truck driver has a serious need for competency in the safe operation of the motor vehicle he drives on the public roads. The only reason the driver is subject to a different set of rules is the occupation wages are so much less, therefore no one in the equation has the wherewithal to fund the training; not the applicant, not the employer, no one on the consumer side.”
MTI owner Andy Roberts is frustrated with the lack of response from the industry and has thus far had little success in swaying provincial politicians to revisit the tuition cap.
“The Ministry of Employment and Labour Market Services is still reviewing the impact of the $4,000 tuition cap in British Columbia and it’s clear that they will maintain it if they don’t feel any push back from industry,” Roberts said. “If the BCTA as well as carriers in this province feel they can operate efficiently and safely with $4,000 entry-level professional drivers, then you don’t need to do anything as this is quickly becoming your new reality.”
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