Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca reinforced the government’s commitment to develop a mandatory entry-level training (MELT) system for commercial drivers, adding that “competency based testing” will guide that process.
Del Duca made the remarks at a Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario’s (TTSAO) roundtable in Toronto, where nearly 100 stakeholders participated – including staff and member carriers of the Ontario Trucking Association.
While reiterating the announcement on MELT he made at OTA’s convention last fall, Del Duca commended those “working on the frontlines,” such as OTA, for providing perspective and helping the government “take steps in the right direction” towards the development of training standards.
“Today is … a chance for all of us, but for me in particular, to seize the opportunity to listen, learn and build consensus on how to get this right for everyone at the table,” he said. “I’d like to acknowledge the work has already been undertaken by so many of you in the industry.”
He also applauded the recent work in developing the “long overdue” National Occupational Standard, which, as OTA President David Bradley reported at the event, has recently undergone its fifth and final draft.
“The (NOS) will help industry define the work that a commercial truck driver does,” Del Duca said. “My hope too, is that the NOS will help provide us as a government, a strong direction as we mandate both mandatory truck driver training, and competency-based testing across the province for Truck Drivers in Ontario.”
The minister stressed “the hard work is still ahead,” but assured that he and his team at MTO “are eager to continue this joint work.”
He added that MELT will lead to safer roadways while providing the industry another tool to help deal “with the crisis we are facing with a shortage of drivers.” He said higher training standards will also deliver “security to those who have made transport trucking their chosen career.”
OTA’s David Bradley, who was one of the panelists at the TTSAO roundtable, lauded the minister’s efforts to date.
“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.”
At OTA’s convention last fall, Del Duca became the first transportation minister in Canada to commit to MELT as well as express support for electronic logging devices – something that OTA and the Canadian Trucking Alliance have supported for years.