Game-Changer: ONT Implementing Mandatory Entry Level Training for Tractor-Trailer Drivers

Ontario Trucking Association
Media Contact: Marco Beghetto, VP Communications & New Media
(416) 249-7401 x 238

(Toronto, June 28, 2016) – The Ontario Trucking Association is hailing this morning’s announcement from provincial transportation minister Stephen Del Duca that all new drivers wishing to take the tractor-trailer (Class A) road test in Ontario will first be required to successfully complete a mandatory entry level training course through an approved training provider.

The rule will take effect July 1, 2017. It makes good on a commitment made by Del Duca shortly after becoming Minister of Transportation in 2014 and three years after OTA first proposed the measure to the provincial government.

“By being the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce mandatory entry level training for tractor-trailer drivers, Ontario is leading the way in further improving highway safety and helping the industry ensure it has an adequate supply of consistently trained, quality new drivers in the future,” says OTA chief executive officer David Bradley, who stood with the minister at today’s announcement at the MTO DriveTest Centre in Brampton.

“This is a game-changer,” he added. “The days of basically being able to walk in off the street and take the tractor-trailer test with no training whatsoever are over.”

There are a number of reasons why OTA wanted to see mandatory entry level training introduced, Bradley said.

“For a long time, carriers have been concerned over the lack of consistency in the basic level of driving competency exhibited by recently licensed Class A drivers,” he noted. “There are good schools producing good candidates, but at the other end of the spectrum there are the license mills which are providing just enough instruction to pass the test.”

“Simply getting the Class A licence has not been a sufficient indicator that a person has the basic skills that a carrier can then mold into a professional truck driver,” he said.

The Class A test will also be undergoing some changes to bring it more in line with the new standard.

While it might appear counter-intuitive to be raising the bar on driver training and licensing at a time when the industry is facing a long-term, chronic driver shortage, Bradley says it will in fact help the industry to attract more, better qualified people to the occupation.

“Everyone, from the CTA Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage, to the Conference Board of Canada, to just about everyone else in the industry, has identified the fact that tractor-trailer driving is erroneously classified as a low-skill occupation, which acts as a barrier to attracting people to the job,” he said. “Mandatory entry level training is an essential step in changing that perception and the classification.”

Details of the new minimum training standard will be released next week. However, Bradley says the standard reflects the entry level portion of the National Occupational Standard developed by Truck HR Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance and was the subject of extensive consultation with industry stakeholders.

“We have a pretty good idea of what the standard will look like,” he said. “And, given the level of input from industry – including carriers, drivers, insurance companies, training schools and safety organizations – we are in strong support.”

It is expected the new standard will require a minimum of 103.5 hours of training (115.5 hours if the MTO air brake course is included). It will apply to private career colleges, community colleges and regulated authorities under the MTO Driver Certification Program.

Bradley says the new standard is much more observable and measurable compared to previous standards. “This will bring consistency to the standards used by the various training providers and will force the licensing mills to either bring their training up-to-standard or exit the industry.”

There are some issues still to be worked out over the next year such as student funding and instructor qualifications.

“However, I see no reason why, with the kind of cooperation we have had so far, that these issues won’t be resolved,”  said Bradley.

Work is also underway with the Ontario College of Trades to bring the Ontario apprenticeship program in line with the new standards.


Bradley says a lot of people who deserve credit for developing Ontario’s new mandatory entry level training program for Class A truck drivers. “We first want to thank Ontario transportation minister Stephen Del Duca and his staff for providing the political leadership, support and commitment.”

“Thanks as well to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Reza Moridi, and his staff and his deputy, Sheldon Levy, for their assistance.”

“MTO’s deputy minister, Stephen Rhodes, played a pivotal role as did Heidi Francis, Assistant Deputy Minister, Road User Safety and her team of dedicated professionals who were tireless in their efforts working with us every step of the way, from beginning to end, to make this a success.”

“A major shout also out goes to Angela Splinter at Trucking HR Canada for developing the new National Occupational Standard that forms the basis of the new training standard.”

According to Bradley, previous efforts aimed at establishing training standards never won industry acceptance because consultation was limited or poorly conducted. “It was imperative this time around that the industry be heard, especially the carriers who ultimately are the customers, the people who buy and develop the output of the training/licensing process.”

“The carriers were greatly supported in this effort by many other stakeholders and partners including the major truck insurers, driver representatives, public and private training schools, enforcement agencies, shippers and safety advocates,” he said. “In particular, I want to extend a very special thank you to the members of the OTA Working Group and the Stakeholder Strategic Review Committee members.” (See below).

“None of what OTA accomplishes would be possible without the vision, commitment and support of the members of the OTA, and its Board of Directors, who despite the risks and inevitable push-back from some quarters, continue to seek solutions leading to an even better industry for the future.”

“Finally, my eternal gratitude to the OTA staff who worked so diligently and effectively on this project, especially Rolf Vanderzwaag and also Geoffrey Wood and Stephen Laskowski. Once again, our team rose to the occasion.”


OTA MELT/DCP Working Group:

Guy Broderick, Apps Transport

Garth Pitzel, Bison Transport

Steve Duffy, Canada Cartage

Gord Karpf, Canada Cartage

Les Howard, Canada Cartage

Mike Iasparro, Canadian Tire

Vince Tarantini, Carmen Transportation

Steve Newton, Challenger Motor Freight

Stephen Sinclair, City of Kitchener

Bill Greenhalgh, City of St. Catharines

Darcy Aitchison, D & W Forwarders

Dave Hurley, Don Anderson Haulage

Don Weber,  Durham College

Tom Boehler, Erb Transport

Randy Steckly, Erb Transport

Mike Myler, Humber College

George Smagala, Infrastructure Health & Safety Association

Justin Martin, International Truckload Services

Rob Krolak, J.D. Smith Transport

Caroline Blais, Kriska Transportation

Kenneth Marginson, Lafarge Canada

Tim Holdaway, Midland Transport

Scott Creighton, Northbridge Insurance

Jim Pereira, Onfreight Logistics

Rolf Vanderzwaag, OTA

Geoffrey Wood, OTA

Stephen Laskowski, OTA


Stakeholder Strategic Review Committee:

Jim Park, Owner-Operator Business Advisory Council

Mike Millian, Private Motor Truck Council

Angela Splinter, Trucking HR Canada

Rick Geller, Marsh Canada

Scott Creighton, Northbridge Insurance

Tat Wong, Old Republic Insurance

Angelique Magi, The Guarantee Co.

Kim Richardson, Truck Training Schools Assoc. of Ontario