Saskatchewan Requiring Mandatory Training For CDL Drivers, Costs Expected To Double

Regina, Saskatchewan –  The Saskatchewan government is introducing mandatory training for semi-truck drivers almost eight months after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Starting in March, drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence will be required to undergo at least 121.5 hours of training.

Joe Hargrave, minister for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said the crash — that killed 16 people and injured 13 when the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi collided at a rural intersection — definitely had an impact and influence on the new requirements. “It made it more clear that we need to get this done,” he said.

“This is about the truck driving training and it was about the industry and where we should be taking the industry,” Hargrave continued.

The new program requires drivers to undergo instruction for 47 hours in a classroom, 17.5 hours in a yard and 57 hours behind the wheel. Drivers must also be monitored for a 12-month period following the acquisition of their CDL.

 

Work on the mandatory training started in 2017 and western provinces agreed a basic training program was necessary, Hargrave said. Previously, training was not mandatory, but Saskatchewan Government Insurance accredited driving schools.

Ontario is currently the only province that has mandatory truck driver training consisting of 103.5 hours.

As of March 1, Alberta is making driver training with a standardized curriculum for new commercial truckers and bus drivers mandatory. All new commercial carriers in Alberta will have to prove they comply with transportation safety regulations before they can begin operations.

Susan Ewart, executive director with the Saskatchewan Trucking Association, said she believes the change in Saskatchewan is positive step toward better safety outcomes.

“Having mandatory entry-level training will increase that base set of knowledge and skill when they hire someone at a trucking company,” she said.

Saskatchewan farmers driving semis within the province won’t require the training yet because Hargrave said farmers aren’t on the road all year. He said the province is still consulting on the issue.

 

Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the changes don’t address existing drivers and shouldn’t have exempted farmers entirely.

“There should be different sets of training but to leave it completely without any training is really leaving a big hole in terms of safety,” he said.

The mandatory driver training comes at a hefty new cost to potential entrants though. The new costs for the required training are estimated between $6,000 and $8,500. This is a huge jump from the current average of $3,000 for training.

Hargrove emphasized that grants may be offered to offset the costs and the province is considering the idea of having the training costs covered under the federal student loan program.

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