National MELT program is a good start

RED DEER, Alta. – News that Canada’s transportation ministers will implement a national standard for entry level driver training (MELT) is being heralded as a step forward from one woman calling for stricter regulations for Class 1 drivers.

Pattie Fair lost her husband in 2017 after a head-on collision between two semi-trucks. Fair’s husband was traveling to Airdrie, Alta., to pick up a load of hay. Emerging from one of the tunnels on the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden, B.C., another truck entered his lane and collided head on, killing Fair’s husband, Stephen Babij.

“I decided that I was going to try and make a difference and make our roads safer, because this happens all the time,” Fair said of her efforts following the accident. “Then the Humboldt tragedy happened, and my heart broke for those folks.”

It had been about a year after losing her husband that the Humboldt collision occurred. It was then that Fair decided to launch a petition calling for more stringent government regulations for commercial driver training.

She visited with several industry organizations, gathered information, and educated herself on the issues surrounding commercial driver training.

Fair’s petition launched Jan. 14, and after 11 days being active, it was the sixth most signed petition out of all 50 registered in Canada.

“It’s definitely something that Canada is supporting and Canada wants,” said Fair. “I’ve received a lot of support from the industry, which really surprised me. Drivers themselves want this.”

As of Jan. 28, Fair’s petition had 3,102 signatures.

The petition calls for regulation to the Class 1 driver’s licensing process, funding to be available to those looking to acquire their Class 1 licence, a graduated licensing system, and for information to be collected on licensing schools and commercial drivers.

Though she was pleased to hear the news about a federal MELT program, Fair said much more needs to be done.

“To be honest with you, I was a little disappointed on Monday,” Fair said on learning of the federal MELT program. “That was kind of my first reaction, that all we’re going to do is a national standard, but then I thought that we have to stay positive, we have to pull together, and this is a starting point.

“The MELT program is only one of the components. I definitely would like to see this be a graduated licence. I don’t care how much classroom training you have, receiving a licence and then going out and pulling 63,000 kg, it needs to be a graduated licence.”

Echoing sentiments from many in the trucking industry, Fair also wants to see the commercial driver profession be recognized as a skilled trade. She said professions like welders, mechanics, and even hair stylists are considered skilled trades, and are therefore eligible for student loan funding.

“I’ve asked politicians, ‘Are you more concerned about a bad haircut or the safety of our roads?’” said Fair. “Let’s get things in perspective. How many people are killed by a hair stylist? And we regulate them? If anyone should be regulated and considered a skilled trade it should be commercial Class 1 licence holders.”

Fair said it is disheartening a tragedy like Humboldt has to happen for governments to make any headway on a MELT program, but maintains a positive outlook.

“I think we all need to pull together at this time and make it happen,” she said. “I’m hopeful that the federal minister is going to support this more than just a national standard for entry level training. I’m hopeful it doesn’t stop there. We shouldn’t have to have tragedies like (Humboldt) to motivate people and get attention. This is happening daily…we live in Canada and have the resources to ensure this doesn’t happen…let’s use them.”

Over the past few months, Alberta and Saskatchewan had announced their own respective MELT programs, both intended for implementation this spring.

Chris Nash, president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, said Alberta Transportation told the association its provincial program would meet the National Occupational Standards (NOS), so the federal government’s announcement “should have little impact on Alberta’s MELT program.”

The same is true for Saskatchewan’s MELT program. Susan Ewart, executive director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association, said she was working to determine what if any impact a federal program would have. Saskatchewan’s program also follows NOS for truck driver training.

Further east, Terry Shaw, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association, said they are looking at the national MELT announcement as a call to action.

“We are simply looking at this as a call to all provinces that may not have publicly stated support for MELT or haven’t stated a timeline for MELT implementation that they need to adjust their positions,” said Shaw. “With that understanding, we are simply going to continue our work toward MELT in Manitoba.”

Dave Earle, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, said though his province has not yet committed to the timing of MELT, a program is coming that will align with NOS.

“We’re anticipating being involved throughout the process, but we won’t know until that is kicked off,” he said.

Fair said she appreciates the effort provinces have put in to implement individual MELT programs, but feels it should be a regulation that comes from the federal level.

“I just don’t see it being very effective,” she said of provincial MELT programs. “We need to have more of a federal program that covers all of the terrains across Canada. Saskatchewan and B.C. are two different worlds.”

To view Fair’s petition, visit

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • I got a Commercial License at the age of 16, drove trucks from the age of 18, was grandfathered into a class a, eventually had a Class ACMZ license. I took an Air Brake course. I have driven trucks over 7.8 million miles. I did a Daily Log Book, I did daily Pre trip Inspections. I never ran a stop sign. This driver in the Humboldt case was an Idiot and should not be driving a truck. I have no idea about who he worked for, But I will bet you a dollar the company he worked for let him do this.

    • You can’t put the entire blame on him but the company that hired him that was supposed to train him. Just saying. It’s easy when your family members that grandfather you in to train you properly as they wouldn’t want you to kill yourself in an accident. It’s much different for a company that isn’t related to you to pump out as many loads as possible for their greed. All the Melt program is going to do is provide a class 1 shortage as it’s too god damn expensive to pay 10,000 for most and that’s not even the road test included nor air brakes or load securement.
      The owner of the company should be facing jail time as well because if he had trained and hired a competent driver none of this would’ve happened.

  • we as a country are handing out AZ licences to new drivers with little to no experience and most of them not experienced with driving in this country .Gravel trucks being the worst as they are in a hurry and killing people on the roads .What has to happen before action is taken by the .D.O.T. and other governing bodies .???

  • I believe that the MELT program is a good start however is very basic.
    Considering that drivers are required to have a class 5 license before attempting to obtain a class 1, failing to address skill, attitude and competency at that level, really leaves one pondering if the MELT program will have any positive affect other than costing more for those seeking the class 1 license. Furthermore, considering the various types and configurations of units on the road, the MELT program does not address competencies related to those various types of units so again one wonders if there will be a positive affect.

  • This petition should be signed by every person not only involved in Transport but everyone that uses our roads. I have signed and would like to thank Pattie for bringing this to the attention of the Politicians. I am sure I am not alone when I say I have been saying this for years.
    Pattie thank you for picking up the baton on behalf of the Transport industry.

  • CTHRC developed Canada’s only National Standard for training Entry Level Professional Drivers in the 1990’s. This program had strict requirements and was a 255 Hour Course with an additional 100 Hours of mandatory Supervised Work Place Assessment, before a student could graduate. The Trucking Industry mandated CTHRC to develop Earning Your Wheels as Canada’s only National Standard. When the industry heard the price of the new National Standard for training Entry Level Professional Drivers most people said it was to expensive.
    Over the years I believe CTHRC (now Trucking HR Canada) only managed to accredit about four Truck Driving Schools to deliver Earning Your Wheels. Mountain Transport Institute in Castlegar, BC was one of the last training schools to deliver Earning Your Wheels, Canada’s only National Standard for training Entry Level Truck Drivers.
    Now people are making noise about expanding the MELT Program who’s course content seems to be about 50% of our original National Standard.
    I have two questions.
    Why is our Federal Government talking about establishing a National Standard for training Entry Level Professional Drivers Trucking when they already paid for one that no one uses?
    Why are our Provinces, Associations and Training Schools promoting MELT if in fact it is 50% of what a true National Standard demands.
    It is sad to think what it took to bring driver training to a national issue, and it will be further disappointing if we don’t get this right now.
    Roy Craigen, President
    TRANSCOM Fleet Services Inc.

    CTHRC Chairman (7 years)

    • Sounds like it was an EXCELLENT PROGRAM.

      Quebec has the CFTR program associated/financed by the PUBLIC SCHOOL PROGRAM. It is a Professional School Diploma which then costs the student ~$300 in total fees.

      To make Trucking PROFESSIONAL it needs to be a SKILLED TRADE and your EXCELLENT PROGRAM needs to be RECOGNIZED and supported by THE GOVERNMENT.

      They have been part of the problem.

      THANK YOU for your EXCELLENT initiative and letting us know.

      Contact your MP and ALL OPPOSITION LEADERS about this!

  • MELT excellent idea!

    Petition fantastic initiative!

    Great Article!

    Thought provoking commentary.

    However,  TRAINING of new recruits wouldn’t be such a BIG ISSUE if the INDUSTRY paid, respected, valued, cherished and rewarded SAFE, EXPERIENCED Professional TruckDrivers adequately.

    Instead we have a “RACE TO THE BOTTOM”.

    We need to change the “REVOLVING DOOR MODEL” of Trucking.

    90% of the SOLUTION is to KEEP (RETAIN) COMPETENT QUALIFIED Professional Truck  Drivers.

    Why are they ABANDONING the industry in droves?

    100% Turnover Rates ain’t normal!

    It wasn’t this way before “SELECTIVE DEREGULATION”:


    “The Big Rig: Trucking & the Decline of the American Dream”.

    We need to FIX a BROKEN INDUSTRY.

    We need to make ALL PARTNERS in transportation ACCOUNTABLE, and stop blaming DRIVERS for everything.  Especially when “others” are at fault.

    Rick Blatter  B.Ed., M.Sc.

    Fitness, Wellness, Safety & Efficiency.

    Spokesperson for the CIA-TA:

    CTA Canadian Truckers Associations

    ITA International Truckers Associations
    ATA American Truckers Associations

  • I’m a citizen of Canada and lost my job since last year and did the air brakes course an even follow the class 1 truck driver course and after the accident, everything has to start from the beginning I really appreciate the decision of the government about that but if the government can give funding for new drivers for this program would be a must.I’m looking for support like funding so that I can go ahead with this particular program thanks.

    • We agree and appreciate the New MELT training for all Class one drivers how ever the Transportation government should not discriminate those Class 1 drivers who already completed their Class 1 between Oct 11 2018 to Feb 27 2019 in Automatic transmission and recieved letters from Transportation Alberta for retesting in Manual trucks

      This doesnt ensure any kind of safety but total discrimination for targetting unfortunate group of those dru era who already completed their full Class 1liscence between those dates

      Y in the first place they were allowed to pursue their exams and liscence

      Y this letter was not sent to all those drivers who have no idea about Manusl trucking but obtained their Class 1 in Automatic transmission prior to Oct 11 2018

      That’s complete discrimination

      How can they justify and differentiate the experience between class 1 driver who obtained their liscence in Class 1 in Automatic transmission vs the ones who did on Oct 11

      This is direct discrimination and targeting those group of people who were first allowed to take their exams and given the choice

  • Just as many or more head on collisions happen with 4 wheeler’s. Its not a matter of lack of training, its a matter of not paying attention, falling asleep or distracted driving. The driver in Humboldt had enough OOS’s to be shut down for 72 hrs. if he would have been pulled over before the accident happend. The owner of the company is a joke, he sold the trucks to a numbered company to keep working after AB Trans shut the other company down, he should be doing jail time. The MELT program is good, but at the end of the day you cant fix stupid.

  • It should be mandatory that trucking company’s too spend 6 months in the passenger seat with new truck drivers as well as experienced ones as they by passed the MELT program so they too are iffy. I can’t count how many old farts in the industry blew passed me speeding or cut me off. MELT should be for everyone not the select few.

  • I feel all truck drivers should be taking Walt not the select few. There’s lots of older ones that have no business being on the road as well with their reckless driving. I’ve seen 48-60 years olds driving recklessly and worse then some of the young ones. MELT should be for everyone including the ones that had their license’s years ago or No one.