Humboldt families criticize Alberta’s review of driver training standards

by Truck News-West

EDMONTON, Alta. – Following backlash from the families impacted by the Humboldt Broncos bus collision, Alberta Transport Minister Ric McIver took to Facebook to clarify the government’s position driver training standards.

Humboldt families voiced their displeasure on social media, criticizing the provincial government’s review of driver training requirements put in place March of this year with a mandatory entry level training (MELT) program.

The review is intended to look at requirements for agriculture workers and bus drivers, not full-time commercial truck drivers.

McIver posted that “no decisions have been made or will be made until we hear from all interested parties about the best way to proceed.”
McIver added, “Let me assure you that we will not make any changes that compromise safety on our roads.”

In February, the Alberta government extended the deadline for farm workers to comply with the MELT program. After consultation with the agriculture industry, the provincial government said it granted the exemption to those in the sector “to avoid undue pressure on seeding and harvesting operations this year.”

The Alberta government still encouraged farmers and farm workers to complete the MELT program before acquiring their Class 1 or 2 driver’s licence, but it will not be mandatory during the 2019 farming season.

As it stands now, farm workers have until Nov. 30, 2020 to comply with MELT standards and compete road tests to acquire a Class 1 driver’s license. The MELT deadline for bus drivers for their Class 2 license is July 31, 2020.

In a response to the argument that farm truck drivers only move their product short distances, Toby Boulet, who lost his son Logan in the Humboldt tragedy, said on Twitter, “Just driving a short distance from your home or farm! This is a ridiculous argument. Watch the reports and decide for yourself. Everyone is on the same road. It is becoming an argument about economics. The value of a load of grain and a life. I know where I stand.”

McIver said on Facebook that the farming and school bus driving professions are highly flexible and seasonal industries.

“The large time commitment, cost, and rigor of a curriculum designed for full-time truck and bus drivers created a burden on two industries made up of part-time, retired, or otherwise cash-strapped drivers,” wrote McIver. “Our government plans to use the time this second extension provides to work with farmers and school bus drivers to build a strong driver training system that works for our key industries while ensuring public safety.”

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  • As a professional driver of both buses and trucks for more than 40 years, my question for the Alberta government is: Does it make any difference if you are involved in a serious accident whether the driver is a farmer or a retired part-timer or a professional?

    The MELT program is designed to cut down on accidents. It’s a cost of doing business. Hopefully, it can give new commercial drivers an insight into safe operation of a large vehicle.

  • First of all, Canada needs to put in the e-Logs to ensure drivers of all commercial trucks do not exceed driving hours. That is what causes most crashes with trucks. I own a trucking company and all our Units run e-logs.

  • Farmers used to travel 3 miles in a 3-ton truck to the elevator. Now they are using a Class 3 vehicle and as many as 7 axles to deliver grain hundreds/thousands of miles away. They need to have the same training standards as everyone else, and they should not be able to hide behind the Class 3 truck and a pup. Yes it is seasonal, but they are not as familiar with the highway as the other drivers and should have to have the same training.

  • ya I’m a class 1 driver and even before MELT, I chose to get myself 80 hours of training on a class 1 and 15 hours on a class 3; however, even with MELT you are seeing people in the registry offices being “helped” (cheating) on their class 1 written exams and you regularly see drivers for certain companies (companies who are clearly getting grants for hiring out of country because they can’t find qualified Canadian drivers which is a lie) on their cell phones and weaving all over the road. I have a friend who works in the oil/gas industry saying she hears a lot of people bragging about how they pay to get their class 1 licence, how they get the jobs because the government gives employer’s a 30,000 grant to hire them and how they get jobs paying huge money because they lie. I am so qualified and a really cautious and good driver and can’t even get any employer to call back. I have friends in the same position who are unemployed class 1 drivers and can’t get one call back. the government is NOT serious about making the roads safe or putting qualified drivers on the road or not only would MELT be enforced strictly but even at 100 hours of training, it is still not sufficient to send a new driver on the road.