Truck driver training standards expose fatal flaws

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TORONTO — If you’re 18, crave a little wanderlust to see this country and get paid well, becoming a transport truck driver won’t cost much time or money – in some cases less than two weeks and $ 2,000 ; You don’t even need a high-school diploma. Not bad for bringing in more than $70,000 a year.

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Sounds great, but it’s scary for the millions of drivers on the road. Highways across this country are packed with transport truck drivers with inconsistent training and inexperience and, with more than 20,000 jobs short of more than 20,000 jobs to move goods from province to province, many carriers are desperate to hire.

In 2018, the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy cast a dark shadow on Canada’s trucking industry. An inexperienced driver named Jaskirat Sidhu, educated with a commerce degree, took up a trucking job with very limited training. He was looking for a way to earn extra money to help his wife go back to school.

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On one of his first solo tours, carrying a heavy double load, he ran a stop sign, causing a horrific collision that resulted in 16 lives and 13 injuries – all tied to the Humboldt Broncos hockey club. W5’s Avery Haines spoke to Sidhu in his first televised interview after his eight-year prison sentence.

“The Humboldt pushed us as Canadians and an industry to a place where we went, it was very uncomfortable. We need to fix this,” said Kim Richardson, who runs a truck training consultancy and He is president of the Truck Training School Association of Ontario.

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Less than a year after Humboldt, pressure on the government resulted in a national set of standards for entry-level training called MELT (Compulsory Entry Level Training).

Although it made headlines, it had little impact and today, three and a half years after Humboldt, not every province and territory is on the board. The industry is not federally regulated and the provinces of Quebec and the Maritime have been reluctant to replace their already robust but optional training with a mandatory program that is easier with fewer hours.

This baseline minimum mandatory training requirement has been adopted in Ontario and all Western Provinces, resulting in an increase in truck schools. There are now 155 schools in Ontario alone.

Perhaps the biggest crack in the system is that the Ministry of Transportation is setting the standards, in Ontario it is the Ministry of Colleges and Universities tasked with implementing them. W5 learned that there are just eight employees tasked with overseeing more than 850 private career colleges in everything from cooking to trucking. They just can’t keep up.

Mike Million is the President of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada and he says, “There is an acute shortage of resources in this country where not enough money is being invested to ensure that the rules and regulations are being enforced. “

MELT regulations in Ontario require 103.5 hours of training; 35% in class and 65% in yard and behind the wheel. The teacher-student ratio is assumed to be 4:1, but W5 has found evidence of some schools breaking the rules.

Is there any solution? The parents of Humboldt Bronco hockey player Evan Thomas, who died in a tragic collision on April 6, 2018, want trucking to be federally regulated and to be eligible for Canadian student loans for this training.

“Truck drivers need to be educated and regulated in their trades, like electricians and plumbers, airport pilots,” Scott Thomas said.

Responding to the shortage and frustration of drivers, he said, “You need to increase the pool of people who want to become truck drivers. And the best way to do that is to train as much as you can, and the good guys will get where they need to be and the good guys won’t get there.

Thomas acknowledged that the current training does not even touch the vast and difficult landscape that drivers in Canada are expected to overcome. Jaskirat Sidhu was driving on narrow unfamiliar rural roads in Saskatchewan when he missed a stop sign that killed 16, leaving a nation in mourning.

“You don’t take a pilot trained in Saskatoon and stick them on a 747 and tell them to land at Pearson Airport. It just doesn’t happen,” Thomas said.

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