Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau (right), discusses the communique with fellow transportation ministers following their meeting in Montreal. (Photo: Steve Bouchard)
MONTREAL, Que. – Canada’s transportation ministers have committed to developing a national entry-level driver training standard by 2020 — one of a series of trucking-related initiatives highlighted during a meeting in Montreal.
The goal was released as part of a broad-ranging communique developed during the annual meeting of the Council of Ministers responsible for transportation and highway safety.
“Ministers discussed the importance of strengthening commercial motor vehicle safety. In particular, they agreed to build upon and leverage the work undertaken by several jurisdictions to develop a standard for entry-level training for commercial drivers in Canada by January 2020. This standard will help ensure drivers have the necessary knowledge and skills to safely operate commercial vehicles,” it reads.
Ontario is the only Canadian jurisdiction to mandate entry-level training for truck drivers, although Alberta and Saskatchewan have both released the initial framework for mandates of their own.
Last April’s truck-bus crash in Saskatchewan that killed 16 people on a Humboldt Broncos bus – and a recent Ottawa bus crash that killed three people – were both cited as reminders that more needs to be done in the name of highway safety.
“It’s a historic day for our industry to see all provinces committed to creating a national training standard,” said Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) chairman Scott Smith.
“We are encouraged by the direction and timelines outlined by [federal Transport Minister Marc] Garneau regarding the implementation of [mandatory entry-level training] across the country. We as an industry remain committed to working with all governments on a third-party certified [electronic logging device] ELD mandate coming into effect the same year,” said Canadian Trucking Alliance president Stephen Laskowski.
The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) also welcomed the announcement.
“The PMTC is thrilled with Transport Canada’s announcement on new federal regulations coming into effect for mandatory entry-level training for commercial drivers as soon as January of 2020,” said Mike Millian, PMTC president. “The PMTC has been encouraging Transport Canada and the CCMTA to pursue a national standard for MELT for several years and are happy to see this file moving forward. We worked with Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba on their MELT file, and look forward to working with Transport Canada and CCMTA on the national standard as well. Properly trained entry-level drivers is a must in our Industry, and this is a very positive step.”
Transport Canada believes regulations concerning ELDs will be adopted in the “next few months,” Garneau said, responding to a question from trucknews.com. “It has to go through Canada Gazette. Then we need to allow some time for the trucking sector to put things in place.” But a final date has yet to be set.
The communique itself promised to “advance the dialogue” on finalizing a harmonized technical standard for ELDs.
The ministers also promised more steps to protect vulnerable road users around heavy vehicles, referring to the recently published Safety Measures for Cyclists and Pedestrians Around Heavy Vehicles, released last October. So, too, did they endorse a recent Trucking Harmonized Task Force Report in a bid to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers and irritants.
“Ministers also agreed to establish the same weight limits for wide base single tires as dual tires within their respective jurisdiction. This will further harmonize regulations, improve the productivity of trade corridors, and reduce GHG emissions to ensure that Canada’s transportation system supports the safe, competitive, and seamless transportation of goods,” the communique reads.
Support was also shown for advancing the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, exploring mandatory seat belts for school buses, collaborating on approaches to fight distracted and impaired driving, and promoting testing and investments in automated and connected vehicles.