Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca defended the trucking industry in the Ontario Legislature and pledged to work with the Ontario Trucking Association on a provincial mandatory training program for potential truck drivers.
The topic continued to garner debate this week with opposition members questioning the government about “unregulated trucking schools turning out unprepared truckers.”
The issue became public after a Toronto Star report last week described how unregulated training schools – known in industry circles as so-called licence mills –charge potential drivers sub-standard fees for minimal training. The students are shown enough to just pass the road test.
In response to critics Del Duca said the industry remains safe.
“We have seen the number of fatal conditions involving large trucks on Ontario’s roads reach a five-year low.”
He agreed, however, there is room for improvement when it comes to training new drivers:
“It’s why I have also undertaken to work closely with the Ontario Trucking Association, with the Ministry and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, so that we can work towards implementing a mandatory training program for truck drivers in Ontario.”
OTA has been working closely with the Minister and MTO for some time on this issue and is encouraged it continues to move forward.
David Bradley, president and CEO of OTA, echoed the minister’s sentiments: “There is still a lot of work to do,” says Bradley. “But it starts with leadership and commitment; now that we have that, we’ll get it done.”
Bradley also contends that mandatory entry level training is an essential prerequisite for getting the tractor-trailer driving profession deemed to be a skilled occupation – something a Canadian Trucking Alliance Blue Ribbon Task Force of industry CEO’s and senior executives says is key to resolving the looming chronic shortage of qualified drivers.
The association has built a coalition of support for mandatory entry level training that includes all the major truck insurance companies, the association representing the province’s truck driver training industry, safety groups and the national association of shippers.