Plans to implement Ontario’s mandatory entry-level driver training move forward

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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.”

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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.

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  • I am A driver trainer mentor with the company I work for and the student I currently have they are only supposed to work 44 hours per week I think not if these students want in this industry the TTSOA and the transportation industry itself needs to make it mandatory that these student’s especially if they will be doing long haul do the minimum of 70 hours per week not 44.

  • Congratulations to the TTSAO, OTA and a special thanks to the Honourable Steven Del Duca.
    Mandatory training standards are long overdue. However, I do hope that the program is not “one size fits all” (usually dictated by what best fits Toronto).
    I have lived and worked in rural communities most of my 25+ years in the trucking industry. It is important to recognize that a new driver that just hoped out of a Honda Civic has different needs than that of a driver who has spent much of his life operating large, diesel equipped, oversized, articulating farm equipment.
    Also, has there been any consideration given to adding a soft skills component to the training? The industry has always scored poorly in this area even though we rely so much on the drivers’ ability to manage stress, conflict resolution etc.
    I sincerely invite Mr. Bradley, The TTSAO members, and Steven Del Duca to contact me to discuss my comments and input. It is about time that consideration is given to ALL trucking industry stakeholders, NOT just the few that pay the largest membership dues.
    This country has been built on grass roots mentality and is being taken apart by men in suits.
    I eagerly await your comments.

  • Sonia- thoroughly interesting, soon to be released concept” DRIVER TRAINING”. This agenda seems ambitious but politics will interfere as Government and private sector will and have not encouraged “Professionalism” in the “Trucking Industry”in the past forty years or more! Monetary gain encourages “Professionalism” There is no other Industry where the “CONTRACTOR” is allowed to determine the wage scale of the service provided as with the “trucking industry”. There would be no shortage of “Professional ” drivers if wages were equal to other trades. If you knew somebody was making three times more in wages for doing similar work,how would you react? This disparity exists in trucking and until training upgrades and monetary compensation we will still be importing third world drivers with minimal skills for “minimal” wages! The Port Authority trucking challenge in Vancouver is a prime example. — Thank you for your interest! John-Vancouver.

  • John ( Vancouver ). You nailed it …. Such a shame not many will read your comments , much less react or respond to them. Instead we continue to litter the highways with underskilled, poorly trained ( if at all ) “3rdworld” and domestic drivers, …..
    Then, media and joe public all sit back and question all the rollovers, accidents of all types, highway closures due to jack knives etc, and just can’t figure out what the problem is. A few of these round table “problem solvers” need to spend a little time going for a hands on ride for a few days and then it wouldn’t take long for the problems to be truly recognized. One of the most over regulated and over burdened with rules ( some ridiculous, some not ) jobs anyone could ever have, for just barely above minimal pay , yet still these politicians can’t quite figure out what’s wrong out there and why there is a driver shortage.
    In my opinion, there is no ” driver shortage”. What there is a shortage of is properly trained, qualified drivers and no one coming up through the ranks that even want to consider this choice as a career. They have made trucking so unappealing to any youngsters that would potentially fill the next generations seats that the government who now blame driver shortage, are the ones that created it.

  • Lee- I have been involved in the trucking industry in many capacities for 50 years, there have been no upgrades relating to “driver training” since 1971! The government and private sector are only interested in “CHEAP LABOUR”. — John.

  • I agree with you John…. no proper training, …. A work force that is beleaguered , regulated to near impossible to meet standards and so unappealing now that the future looks extremely bleak. The highways have changed for the worse thanks to the experienced crowd either retiring, falling away, or just leaving due to frustration etc. Trucking in the 1970s was respected, the public had a love affair going with the industry, there were movies, music , t shirts, magazines , even CB radios in cars and vans, .a whole genre that was hugely popular and the industry rode a craze that included non industry types that were interested in trucking as well…this rolled into people wanting to be part of it and a generation that got into trucking for the love and “freedom, and lifestyle it offered …. Then deregulation , governments rules upon rules , unworkable non realistic conditions to abide by, and media putting negative twists and headlines at every chance….helping tear it apart to what it is now …Thanks big government and sheep media !! Yet another mess you’ve created that you have no idea how to fix.

  • Sonia- I do hope you pass these “comments” on to the Ontario “Driver training” committee for reference regarding the shortage of “PROFESSIONAL” Drivers in Canada! — Thank you — John-Vancouver.

  • Excellent comments here John and Lee. It’s a shame that nobody at these back patting tables will ever take anything you’s have said in account!

    It’s unbelievable to me how obvious the real solution to this over regulated industry is.

    Make Truck Driving a “TRADE,” whereby Truck Drivers can make a decent wage, not just little more then Minimum Wage. It makes me sick when I see ads for PROFESSIONAL drivers listing compensation as low as $16 dollars an hour. That’s an insult! The rates need to adjusted.

    It’s no wonder the industry can’t get enough drivers when working at McDonald with a little “Overtime,” would net an individual close to what we make.

    They wouldn’t have to deal with 50 – 70 hours of what I think is the real problem on the road, “Impatient / Rude / Inexperienced Four Wheeling Road Ragers,” who have no idea the damage that can be done at a result of their stupidity.

    We spent, on average, 50 -70 hours a week in a Truck. We lose time with our families because of our TRADE. We are required to have no family file, in order to serve the industry. I think we should be compensated for this. Especially OTR drivers.

    I personally think 50 hours a week should be the limit for any job. We are working our selves to death!

    We know change will never come from / with the governments assistance, as history has always shown us they are always on the receiving end of any transaction.

    It’s going to have to come from Companies that utilize trucks to get their products to market. They have to be the one’s upping a small portion of their profits to afford us this increase. It will never happen if the cost of the end product, brought to market, is increased, in order to affect a change.

    Someone is going to have to pay, and it can’t always be the driver! Enough is enough!