TORONTO, Ont. — The Government of Ontario has finally recognized professional truck driving as a skilled trade in what could be a huge leap forward in the industry’s ongoing struggle to earn respect.
Chris Bentley, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, made the announcement at the Ontario Trucking Association’s management conference on Friday.
“It’s time we recognize what a contribution you make,” said Bentley. “Without your efforts how would we ever feed the plants that rely on commercial goods?”
Bentley admitted that government has been slow to recognize the fact truck driving is a highly-skilled profession.
“You’ve recognized the demands of those who transport goods, but government has been a bit behind,” he told OTA delegates. “Finally, government is recognizing the position of professional truck driver is a skilled profession.”
Bentley then hopped in a tractor-trailer and was driven back to his London riding by an OTA Road Knight.
Bentley also announced the province is launching a voluntary, year-long apprenticeship program for professional drivers. The program involves a 12 week learning period along with about 40 weeks of on-the-job training. Participants must already have a valid A/Z licence.
The program will be regulated under the Apprenticeship and Certification Act and will be up and running by early 2006, said Bentley. For a full report on the new apprenticeship program, see the January issue of Truck News.
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