Ontario MPP questions truck driver certification

An Ontario opposition MPP is raising concerns about truck driver training practices – particularly fleets that train and test their own employees – following a series of crashes in Northwestern Ontario.

“We experienced another dreadful weekend of carnage on our highways,” Lise Vaugeois (NDP – Thunder Bay – Superior North) said in the provincial legislature on March 21. “Two homes had been damaged by a truck in Beardmore, a snow plow driver died near Ignace, and Hwy. 17 was closed for 12 hours after two tractor-trailers collided and one driver was killed.”

Lise Vaugeois (NDP – Thunder Bay – Superior North)
Lise Vaugeois (NDP – Thunder Bay – Superior North)

In a related interview with CBC News, she cited a 2019 report by the Ontario Auditor General that questioned why drivers licensed through Ontario’s Driver Certification Program (DCP) had a higher passing rate than those licensed through DriveTest centers.

“We found that between 2014/15 and 2018/19 drivers tested by carriers had a pass rate of 95% compared with just 69% at DriveTest centers. However, 25% of the 106 carriers that test their own drivers ranked among the worst 1% of all carriers for at fault collision performance,” the Auditor General reported at the time.

“There are also companies, probably the ones with their own schools attached to them, and they are not giving drivers the preparation that they need,” Vaugeois told CBC.

‘Most robust’ commercial training

Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney responded in the legislature that Ontario has the “most robust” commercial licensing system in Canada.

“That doesn’t mean that it’s enough,” Mulroney said. “We are continuing to review our commercial licensing process to make sure that we’re strengthening regulations, to make sure our truck drivers have the training they need when they get out on the road – for themselves as well as for all drivers on Ontario’s roads.”

The province was the first Canadian jurisdiction to establish mandatory entry-level training (MELT), requiring at least 103.5 hours of training before being tested for a Class A licence.

‘An integral element’

That requirement has on its own helped to streamline the number of entities that participate in the Ontario Driver Certification Program, says Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, which offers training for the signing authorities themselves.

“Fire departments used to take people with a G licence right off the street and train them up to the D level for a fire truck – but focus only on the fire truck.”

Currently, the program has approved 47 organizations to deliver Class A and D training and testing, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation says.

The program that remains is “an integral element of how things are being done,” Patterson adds, referring to the way it can reduce bottlenecks at DriveTest centers.

“There would be value in having a ‘DCP light’ that only handles renewals and administrative issues,” he says. But Patterson also stresses the need for the ministry to invest resources to effectively audit the operations.

“That job is the ministry’s job, and they don’t have anyone to do it.”

  • This story has been updated to include information on the number of DCP organizations.

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  • Hi, who may it concern!

    I always have a thought about this situation. Many time I talk with trucker friends & say; “ Authorities are not enough serious with us (trucker), they don’t check are skill levels, they don’t have enough accidents yet!”

    Trucking manager industries & high responsible society don’t realize that low level driver we have around us each days drive close to them & their family. They just need to respond at the demands of are famous world speed consumption! …So we put driver as easily & fast it’s possible on are highway’s!!!

    Some of us are professional & I believe it!

    But I also think that trucking manager industries & gouvernement are not professional in the process of training, hiring & maintain a personal program on each one of us to keep a growing evolution of are knowledge about are carrier!

    Why? …because the industries is sickening & poor!

    Safety is important, really!

    (I drive both country since 1999 , proud of my carrier but tired of what I see like evolution. )

  • They are not wrong. These schools are seriously lacking. When I went through training not quite 10yrs ago, all I was taught was how to pass the MTO test! 7wks is not nearly enough for any person to be able to drive effectively and safely. There is more to driving than pulling a van. Thankfully, my husband who has been driving for nearly 30 yrs was there to train me properly and it took me many months to be confident.

    Most legitimate companies won’t take you if you have less than 2yrs experience and that’s a good thing because most of these puppy mills are producing crappy drivers!!! New drivers, people who aren’t used to winter road conditions, new to our country road rules are dangerous when they are armed with 80k loads.

    Trucking needs to be taken seriously with proper training and testing and exposure to the various kinds of trailers and possible loads, load security, skid training, 7wks is a joke, maybe 6months.

  • There are a lot of ways to make the highways safer for all 1) drivers need to be a minimum of 25 years old to run the highway. 2) minimum of 21 to run in the city. 3) drivers must be able to read and write one of Canada’s official languages. 4) new drivers in commercial vehicles need to work their way up to a full license as if they were getting a new G licence. 5) There are too many driving schools who are just in it for the money. 6) JUST IN TIME FREIGHT needs too stop!!! 7) If a driver , a company truck he should be an employee not a corporation.
    I was talking with a driver who worked for a company and had his own corporation company he was on with was taking money out of his cheque for things like not bringing the right bill from a shipper, he hauled produce and had to stay on the dock for sometimes 7 hrs and if the temp was not right at delivery he would be charged for the freight. ( produce ) I was horrified by what he was telling me!

  • I am a driver and I think they should have to use a trailer that’s loaded for training and the test as a semi is totally different thing when loaded and when a new driver should have on going supervision after passing test

  • Putting these unqualified drivers in 80000 lb trucks in a death sentence for human life. The province is completely at fault and responsible for it because they gave the format for these companies to pass drivers do they can start earning. It’s a shame. Should be minimal 2 years in different stages to receive license. I’m 25 year driver long and short I’ve seen it all.

  • Well all you have to do is watch a few episodes of Heavy Rescue 401 on Discovery Channel…on one episode a driver hauling a fully loaded b-train with gas or diesel got lost in western ontario on a back road around Sarnia and he was apparently stuck, it was icy and roads had a fresh cover of snow..anyhow at one point the owner of Prefered towing Gary Vander….actually had to get into the guys truck to back it out because the driver didn’t knowhow to back up a b train…I mean really ??? This guy has a commercial license.??? He shouldn’t be driving a truck..obviously Discovery blurred out the drivers face but it just goes to show you whats going on…and thats scary !!!!

    • A couple months ago

      A guy drove tractor and trailer … “the wrong way” … through the arrivals level an Terminal 3 Pearson Airport

      Shut the place down for an hour !!

      I was there, I got the pics !?!?

  • Funny how a hairdresser needs to complete an apprenticeship, same as plumbers and mechanics and a host of other trades. Not so for driving a truck. Take a fly-by-night course, pass a test somehow and in theory you can be unleashed on the roads to commit all manner of mayhem.
    I have met a few drivers who did not know how to connect air lines properly or drop the trailer. One fellow was tugging and tugging to release his trailer and didn’t know to set the trailer brakes and back up to release the tension and yet he was driving the thing? Maybe he didn’t have a licence, I don’t know, but how did he pass his test, if he was even the one who took it?
    There are lots of things wrong with the way drivers are trained and licenced and just because there is a shortage does not mean we have to put sub-standard drivers on our roads.
    At one time, drivers were the “Knights-of-the-Road”, now we are looked down upon and disrespected. How times have changed.

    • Agreed
      What happened to the governed rigs ?
      And why are rigs staying in the middle lane, forcing other rigs to drive in the left lane !? It’s nuts

  • Hello to Everyone, I have had my Trucking license since 1987 and no accidents to report. My training was done in 3 weeks and by the 5th week I was driving from Montreal to California going through snowy mountain peaks. You can train someone for as long as you wish but it will come down to attitude and dispatch once on the road. I have seen students doing a 1 year training program and I wouldn’t hire them. SAFETY is number one and that comes from attitude. Slack off the pedal, follow the rules on the road and do your inspections and repairs properly and all will be ok. Drivers driving in No Truck Lanes at over the speed limits is an example of bad attitude. Yes attitude can be taught as well.

    • Agreed. Quite often seeing trucks in the restricted lanes on the highway. Sure signs times change. No discipline/respect on the roads.

  • 103.5 hrs training isn’t enough. That’s 10 days work for a Canadian driver.
    It’s not possible to teach an individual off the street how to safely pilot a semi in such a short time frame
    Then these under trained folks who were trained and licensed on automatic transmissions are cut loose with 105 kmh trucks and given tight schedules right from the get go.
    They pass where it’s not safe,speed through small communities, tailgate.
    I’ve had many situations where I thought I was getting hit head on or pushed into ditch/rock face this past 30 or so years but this past 3 or 4 years it’s has gotten outa hand.
    I save dash cam footage of this behavior and send it off to the co safety department and the opp now a days.
    The industry needs to do better, a mentorship program makes sense, put these men and women in a truck with seasoned drivers and give them a chance to learn the trade. Many lives would be saved imo

  • We all know as drivers who these companies are that push these students on through their in class courses, amazingly enough they pass a road test on the first try.
    Where by I know students that have gone thru MTO test centers and had to redo road test 2 to 3 times before they where handed AZ license.
    This past week I had to deliver loads in Brampton Ont,drove by half dozen truck shops, not being racist but carnage of torn up trucks sitting in these lots was an example of what going on out there on the road ways.
    Why is it that any accidents I come across 9 out of 10 times it involves one certain group of people, you see their bad driving behavior on road ways its a problem, it’s a problem that being turned a blind by by the MTO,OPP on a daily basis.
    I’m just saying this is way it is, any one else running up down the highways in this Country would agree.

  • Reducing bottlenecks at DriveTest is a pretty lame excuse for the DCP program. DCP has no impact on bottlenecks. Its all about corporate greed by cutting corners. More important is the need to cancel the DCP program for Air Brake endorsement applicants. There is no way to control all the schools who train and test for Air Brakes. Schools make a killing (pun intended) on selling air brake endorsement. Its no wonder the biggest violations at road side inspections are brake related – its a lack of knowledge. We need more catastrophic accidents before the MTO takes the issue of safety seriously.

  • There have been questionable and curious training and certification practises within the industry for decades.

    A large percentage of truck drivers are either undertrained or have little driving experience that result in many of the accidents.

    Accredited and authorized training schools are bypassing and rushing individuals through.

    Audits, investigations and compliance must be implemented.

    As with the Private Security Companies and Guards in Ontario , the system is rife with fraud.

  • It is bad. But the education system as a whole has migrated toward quantity rather than quality so is it a wonder the driving schools are also that way? The bad apples are spoiling the whole box. The focus needs to be on driver skill and that’s what’s missing now that it’s taken out of Drive Test’s hands. Some trainees will know more in 2 days than the next one will ever comprehend in 2 months. I’ve seen it. But to have a skills based testing system would be discriminatory and other derogatory terms. It’s the world in which we live.