TORONTO, Ont. – Last fall, Ontario’s provincial government announced its plans to consult the trucking industry on plans to introduce mandatory entry-level commercial driver training to improve safety across provincial roadways. And today pending plans to introduce the new program took a major step forward.
At the Marriott Airport Hotel in Toronto, nearly 100 decision-makers gathered for the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario’s (TTSAO) roundtable where how to implement such training was discussed.
Among the attendees was Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s minister of transportation who confirmed that the industry and the ministry is working together to ensure that the driver training they roll out in conjunction is flawless.
“Today is another example of taking an additional step in the right direction,” he said. “It’s a chance for all of us, but for me in particular, to seize the opportunity to listen to you and to learn from you and to build consensus in order to make sure we get this right for everyone at the table.”
He stressed the importance of the industry and the ministry to take its time developing the training program so it’s not a process that has to be done again in the near future.
“We can make sure we can get this right, which is so important not only to me and the team at MTO, and certainly not only to you as an industry, but it’s important to every single man woman and child who relies on Ontario’s roads and highways,” he said. “Together we will deliver a robust program to measure competency and administer mandatory training for commercial truck drivers. We’ll find a standard that keeps us at the forefront of road and highway safety in North American, but also standard that we can deliver effectively and this is extremely important to me it is about setting expectations, the right kind of expectations and then meeting those expectations. And I know that you in this industry will help our government fulfill the expectations that we’ve created.”
The minister also commended the work the industry has been doing so far. In particular, how quickly the industry banded together to get the final draft ready for the national occupational standard.
“What great news to hear from David (Bradley) today that the fifth and final draft has been developed,” he said. “It’s a standard that has been long overdue. It will certainly help the industry define the work with respect to what a commercial truck driver does.”
He added that the occupational standard and the mandatory training is good news for carriers because it will help address the driver shortage crisis as well as provide security to those professional drivers in the province.
David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance echoed the minister’s views saying: “We’re very satisfied from an industry perspective in terms of the level of effort and the level of cooperation between the industry and the ministry. It’s not a case of unnecessary delays and that sort of thing. It’s doing it right, so we don’t have to go back and do it again.”
There is no time frame for when the mandatory training will be officially in effect. The minister said that together the industry is working hard to get it done, but that “we don’t want to rush something. We want to get in right.”
He added that he expects to provide an update to the industry on the issue in the fall.
The media was not invited to the roundtable discussion, though according to Kim Richardson, president of KRTS Transportation Specialists, a lot of important issues were discussed.
“We made some major strides forward, not only on mandatory entry-level driver training but in the way the training is going to be delivered because there’s some very big policy changes to TTSAO’s constitution in reference to non-synchronized transmission and automatics,” he said. “Because at the end of the day the training schools have to hold themselves accountable.”
Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface. All posts by Sonia Straface