Entry-level driver training moves forward at national level

by John G. Smith

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau joins Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure Minister Greg Ottenbreit to discuss actions at the annual meeting of the Council of Ministers responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety.

TORONTO, Ont. – Canada’s transportation and highway safety ministers have approved a national entry-level training standard for commercial vehicle drivers, which will ultimately be included in the National Safety Code.

The announcement was made today following an annual meeting of the ministers.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) believes the details will ultimately echo mandatory entry-level training standards (MELT) adopted in Ontario.

“Since last year, we have made progress on important files, including improving school bus safety, adopting a national standard for entry-level training of commercial motor vehicle drivers, and launching the Pan-Canadian Competitive Trade Corridor Initiative,” federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said, following the meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts.

One collision in particular continues to be a touchstone for trucking safety initiatives such as this one.

“The Humboldt Broncos tragedy in Saskatchewan is something very high on our agenda when it comes to traffic safety, truck safety, and our transportation system,” Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure Minister Greg Ottenbreit said during a related press briefing.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) was quick to applaud the initiative.

“The basis of this commitment was clear – that all Canadians should expect that people who receive their commercial driver’s licence and share the road with Canadians should be properly trained,” said Canadian Trucking Alliance chairman Scott Smith.

“It’s a historic day for the trucking industry, which wholeheartedly shares the government’s vision for improved highway safety. Canadian tractor-trailer drivers across Canada who challenge the licensing test will now have to undergo a meaningful, minimum level of training and will be tested on the same technical elements they were trained for.”

“Today’s announcement marks another chapter in the evolution of an already-strong partnership between CTA and [the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators] to improve highway safety in the truck-training sector through policy development,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “Government officials and CTA will be working together continuously to ensure that minimum pre-licensing training is held to the highest standard over time and consistency is applied across all jurisdictions.”

Provinces and territories are ultimately responsible for driver licensing.


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  • Thank God that they finally figured out how to train truckers. Now they need a couple more serious accidents to understand that in order to reduce accidents, they need to increase the overall quality level of drivers. And this cannot be done until the working conditions of truckers are improved, a ban on wages for miles will be imposed, as a discriminatory system of wages, and the salaries of drivers will be guaranteed and tied to a price index. Then worthy professionals will return to this business, and young truckers will come. In the meantime, the work of a trucker is a low-paid and not a prestigious profession, in which those who come no longer know anything, or immigrants with the aim of obtaining a residence status.
    Today, for 24 hours in the truck, and 14 hours of work per day, the driver earns about $ 250.
    No adequate person will go to work as a trucker, only if necessary and temporarily, until he finds a better job.
    For 13 years, truckers’ salaries increased by about 5-7 cents per mile, or $ 500-700 per month gross.
    So, training will not solve the problem with accidents, because people come to business as necessary, and treat this work as temporary.
    But, as I said, it is still necessary that fatal accidents occur, so that they can begin to do something about the quality of drivers and working conditions. This is evidenced by my many years of experience as an instructor in theory and practice of driving in the Israeli army.

  • Next step is making it mandatory to take the tests in English or French, our ONLY official languages, with NO help from an interpreter. Drivers not understanding road signs or instructions are dangerous to everyone. Time to tighten up how a person gets a license, and not listening to the mega carriers who only have they’re own interest of filling seats in mind. There is no driver shortage, the problem is pay shortage, and bringing bodies to fill seats from other countries is not the answer to a self made problem.

  • I wonder how they will continue to not recognize truckers as highly skilled specialists. After all, now we need to take an expensive course ?! I understand that then it will be necessary to change the wage system, and this is not beneficial for many.

  • The industry has to now step up to the plate and supply training and mentoring ( like a trade ) and develop the talent level.
    The drivers have to be engaged and change their attitudes toward their ‘JOB’.
    Personal integrity comes from a basic learning and mentoring at early age. Anyone who desires to do good things or perform a task at a level of perfection brings that to the workplace.
    The pay by the hour or pay by the mile or pay by the month or any other system does not guarantee a safe or educated workforce.
    If you come to transportation for a ‘job’ – that’s all it will ever be. No different than a carpenter who doesn’t care about his finished project or a mechanic who just puts in his time but never improves his skill.
    The discussion about being away for 24 hrs. doesn’t discuss any other job where people are away from home. No one gets paid for the hours they don’t work.
    Now the daily rate (?) Eugene discusses comes from an example of ‘poor company to work for’. If you don’t have the talent or skills to move up to a different job then its not any different than a minimum wage earner in any career – learn the skills, upgrade yourself and go out and pursue the better money.
    Too many want too much for too little.

  • Well I can say is that if the CTA is involved then I have my doubts that it will work.
    Do to fact that they wrote melt program. In Ontario then got the government to put it on a shelf and allow so many new drivers to attain a commercial license.

  • Are they also going to put a stop of Unemployment Insurance contacting the truck driving schools and MAKING them pass students that failed?

    Yes, that happens.

    Also how about taking drivers off the road, like say ones that hit the Burlington Skyway Bridge IMPAIRED and get to go back to work with no charges.

  • The MELT program is a great FIRST step. The next step is certifying companies to take these newly minted drivers and turn them into Professional Drivers. In my experience (25 years) there is a huge fall down with companies to properly train new drivers in the actual things that happen on the road. Far too often, drivers are left to the wolves to figure it out for themselves. Companies need to do a better job of new hiring training with qualified and willing OJT trainers to help mentor and coach. I believe this will add success to the MELT program by making it the first step to entry level.

  • It’s good to hear that minimum training standards for drivers are going to be implemented.
    Two questions:
    1/ who will be responsible to enforce this standard?
    2/ will examiners be subjected to any new skill / knowledge requirements and who will monitor their performance?

  • Better – but still not enough!
    I am a recruiter at a reputable truck training school – this very morning I fielded a call from a DZ driver looking for MELT Program and had questions re “advanced standing”. He was curious as to the wide range in AZ Programs and MELT.
    He was quoted by a GTA truck “school” $2000 for 20 hours of instruction and he would get his MELT.
    Far below the minimum required.
    Basically, the “school” is filling out and submitting MELT paperwork, without the required hours having been done. This will continue – putting poorly trained and dangerous drivers on the road – until the schools are caught. The same licensing mills are back – selling fraudulent MELT courses.
    Will they be put out of business? suffer a suspension? or just fill out the paperwork and pop up again as another “school”?
    Proper school accreditation needs to be more strict and not easy to achieve.
    Carriers need to start insisting that unless you graduate from a list of industry approved schools – don’t bother applying.
    Newer drivers 2 yrs and less involved in a crash – should be investigated as to where they received training. A CVOR of sorts for schools – too many points and you’re gone.

    Lastly, the Road Test to get any licence – especially commercial – IS A JOKE – major reforms are required, unfortunately the next tragedy is only a matter of when.

    • Well said Crow!!!,, i have only seen 1 Transport in a collision with another transport, and that was from an inexperienced driver trying to turn left in the left lane,….. almost every time you see a transport in a collision with a 4 wheeler its a stupid move by the 4 wheeler, so who really needs the better training!!!

  • Well said Eugene.
    I disagree with the foreign workers program that brings in immigrants to Canada to fill a shortage of drivers. They will be no better qualified than our own pool of drivers and we as taxpayers are somehow going to pay their training bill. I say train our own, give jobs to people on welfare and E.I. as a condition of their monthly check, which will help people get off the system. Immigrants are looking for the easiest way to get to Canada and we have already seen abuse by unscrupulous companies. I have 3 teenage boys playing hockey and I can only imagine the pain and heartache the Humboldt parents are going through losing their kids in this absolutely needless tragedy.

  • Hi-50 YEARS TOO LATE,and no specific hours of training defined. Politics and lobbying has to stop ! 60 years employed in all aspects of the industry, and commercial accidents are a reality every day in this country. TRADE CLASSIFICATION IS OVERDUE or more carnage will continue on our highways. John Wihksen-Vancouver,BC.

  • I don’t deny that the MELT program is necessary – however it will only be as good as the instructor’s doing the training and testing facility.
    Further; other non-commercial drivers require training on how to drive when in the vicinity of a commercial vehicle. ie-blind spots, pulling up short in front to be first at the light, switching lanes quickly without adequate notice etc.
    Often the crash is not the fault of the commercial driver….

  • Now that they have some training in place, as mentioned in the comment above the wages should be greatly increased.

    Also it should be made into a 3 to 5 year apprenticeship program.

    The days of the dumb driver are long gone.

  • It’s about time something was done in regard to standardized training, drivers have been after that for years. Now we need trade designation and hourly wages. The criminal trucking alliance had fought all this at every turn, as have all levels of government up until this accident at humbolt. With this being a liberal government and the cta being in on the scheme then I expect high costs to students to get poorly trained while the criminals in the association get wealthier.