TORONTO — The Ministry of Transportation’s Medical Review Department was flooded with calls from Ontario truckers last week looking for clarification on recent changes to their licences.
Nearly 47,000 Ontario truckers were issued letters by the MTO indicating that they may no longer be able to drive in the United States if they have one of four medical conditions restricted in the U.S: a hearing impairment, monocular vision, diabetes requiring insulin or a history of epilepsy or seizures.
Drivers with any of one of the four conditions will have a “W” code displayed on their licence card and won’t be allowed to cross the border.
Additionally, commercial drivers who failed to file a medical report and were downgraded to Class D will also see a “W” on their licence.
That code is the only change — and one that looks to only be news for Ontario as other Canadian provinces, like Manitoba and Quebec, have already gone through this process.
The change comes as a requirement under a Canada/U.S. Medical Reciprocity Agreement for Commercial Drivers, set to take affect in Ontario in May and meant to address differences in the medical fitness standards between Transport Canada and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
But the regulations themselves have been in place for sometime.
“Since September 2003, commercial drivers with a hearing impairment, monocular vision, insulin-dependent diabetes, history of epilepsy or seizures were notified by letter that they were prohibited from driving in the United States,” MTO spokesperson Bob Nichols told Today’s Trucking.
“The only change as of May 2013 is printing the “W” on the face of the card.”
Nichols explained that not all drivers who received a letter need to file (or resend) a medical form in response. “Only those drivers who failed to file a medical report and were downgraded to D must file a satisfactory medical report to have the W code removed.”
Nichols added that if an affected driver wants to write ‘W code’ on the front of the medical form, it would help the MTO separate it from other forms.
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