REGINA, Sask. – The Saskatchewan government announced it will implement mandatory entry-level driver training (MELT) staring March 15 for anyone looking to acquire a Class 1 commercial licence.
“Saskatchewan has been working to improve standards for training curriculum and driver testing for semi drivers since mid-2017,” said Joe Hargrave, minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI). “Our ongoing consultations with other provinces have helped address gaps and inconsistencies when commercial drivers cross provincial borders. Stronger training requirements in Saskatchewan and across Canada will help make our province’s and our nation’s roads safer.”
Susan Ewart, executive director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA), told Truck West the association has advocated for regulatory changes that create both a better business environment for the industry and safer roads for all motorists.
“Today’s announcement is not only a major step forward for the trucking industry but an important move forward for the entire province,” said Ewart. “Government and industry have worked collectively to raise the bar on safety and implement a higher training standard for new commercial drivers. As the truck driver shortage grows across the nation, this regulatory change will assist the industry in educating, training, and building the competent and skilled workforce that our economy needs now and in the future.”
The proposed MELT program, which comes eight months after the tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus, will require drivers to complete a minimum of 121.5 hours of training. The curriculum will include classroom instruction, in-yard training, and behind the wheel experience.
The program will focus on basic driving techniques, professional driving habits, and vehicle and air brake inspections.
Those currently holding a Class 1 licence will be grandfathered in as of the implementation date. Drivers in the agriculture sector using farming equipment will need to obtain an “F” endorsement on their existing driver’s licence and will be restricted to working within the province. The endorsement will not be required for those who already have a Class 1 licence or have completed MELT training.
A 12-month safety monitoring program is also being introduced effective immediately for all semi-truck drivers. SGI will monitor drivers more stringently for the year following MELT training to ensure competence.
As of March 15, SGI examiners will handle all Class 1 road tests.
“The industry is on-board with strengthened training requirements,” said Ewart. “Commercial drivers play a critical role delivering goods that keep our economy moving. Our industry also has a responsibility to make sure commercial semi drivers have the knowledge and skills to do their job ensuring the safety of everyone on the road.”