National truck driver training standard promised by 2020

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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 “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.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • You better do something with insurance in Quebec, they are killing small fleets, probably on purpose, raising prices in triple

  • It might not be posted but I will say regardless of all the good intention into safety with truck driving, the public should be instructed to stay at a safe distance from heavy highway tractor trailer cause the small cars this days and the cyclist are almost impossible to see in the mirrors.
    The other thing for the new generation of highway driving beginners they should be on job training after a good three to four months course and hands on driving not only summer but winter and if close to mountains well go and do it cokahala BC would be a good training.
    I have been doing it for 20 plus years from East to West canada and the USA I survived using common sense behind the wheel and luck of course.

  • All these crack downs on Class 1 drivers ??? You may want to check this Class 5 genius out ! This is an unfortunate reality that Class 1 drivers face and unfortunately have to endure on a daily bases . But no mention about those Class 5 holders and their desperate need to be educated …………

    And the politicians the general public vote for are also Class 5 holders ,LOL !

    On a positive note , there is a solution to all this . However, it takes people it politics that are smart enough to act before a problem occurs , not after . They preach prevention but generally act after rather than before an occurrence . How ironic is that ? LOL !

    You can’t fix stupid ! But you can “prevent” it ,lol !

  • AGAIN ! This bares REPEATING !

    Quote :

    “The alliance pointed out that according to Transport Canada, 20% of all collisions are caused by fatigue for both truck and passenger vehicle drivers. The CTA said there are approximately 9,400 HOS-related incidents per year in Canada, and tamper-proof, certified ELDs will significantly improve compliance.”

    WRONG ! Most semi accidents are caused due to Class 5 drivers !!!
    And if you really believe that accidents occur due to fatigue of which some certainly do , THEN CREATE MORE AND BIGGER TRUCK STOPS AND REST AREAS !!! They are always over crowded with little space left overnight !!! How are road users suppose to pull over and rest if there is NO SPACE ?

    Do you seriously believe that ELD’s will create more space at truck stops and rest areas ??? If so then you’re in the twilight zone !!!

    WAKE UP ! ELD’s will not prevent people from going through a stop sign ! Nor does it render road use safer !!!

    Hello ! Is anyone listening ???


    Unless you were to attach,ie; a sort of vehicle detector to the stop sign and to vehicles where once a vehicle is detected to be approaching the stop sign , then a 5 foot thick and 14 foot high iron wall would rise from within the ground ,lol ! Now that would stop a vehicle and or make sure they would stop ! However, this isn’t the “twilight zone” . So get real !

    By the way , semi transport vehicles haven’t been designed for SAFETY !!! Hello is anybody home ??? Nor have highways nor any public roads been designed for semi trucks !!!

    Tires ? They are too vulnerable ! Go back to the drawing board as NASA & Goodyear has with the superelastic tire , at least that is a good start . And that is simply a tire ! We’re not covering the whole truck ! All that we have concerning semi transport trucks has been designed by engineers who have been deemed knowledgeable and certified according to the educational system we have today , and that’s the ingenious ideas that they came up with ??? LOL !

    Houston we have a problem , A MAJOR PROBLEM with our educational system overseen by governments ! Therefor governments are the problem . Too easily CONvinced by lobbyists , what a shame !

  • I am living in Dubai working with airlines as a flying crew i am 32 years from Nigeria i have high school I love diving truck I was driving a truck in Nigeria before came to Dubai in 2013 I love to come to Canada to study it well in a higher division and work in Canada to know more about …I want to know how many months it will take me how much I have to pay I love the job so much…I am here in Dubai truck driving school as a student I will love to study in Canada I Will be help to hear from you soon…thank for your time and understanding Victor

  • Actual training is driving on the road. All training provided by school is not enough even it is 200 hours. Even insurance company is not ready to give insurance for a new driver. I think all new drivers should get 6 month on job training with supervision and then again they should appear for the road test .
    That makes more sense. As a example which driving school teach them how to chain the tires?? Ask any new graduate I will bet you for that . 9000 and 15000 to learn a course is painful for a middle class person . I think there should be a good startagy how to run this program. The big joke is every province has there own standard. One biggest challenge is how many class 1 drivers got the license in the past and out of that how many drivers are the good drivers??? Good luck my dear people on the road

  • As a long time driver, (32 years pulling tankers and more previously), I tend to take the “MELT” program as a bit of a salve to ease the minds of the general public. 113 hours total, in Alberta, and 103 hours total, in Ontario is simply not enough to be turned loose on the road with a tractor trailer.
    Most employers take this into consideration, and very few have a ‘beginner driver’ program. This leaves the less safety conscious employers with the responsibility to train drivers. This is why many refer to newer drivers as ‘steering wheel holders’.
    In addition to the planned MELT programs, I would prefer that “Truck Driving” become a “Red Seal” trade.
    MELT teaches enough to obtain a license (to learn), but it does not provide the experience and knowledge to be a truck driver.
    An article I wrote regarding this aspect is linked here:

    Thanks you for the opportunity to speak.