Local MLA presses province about MELT extensions
Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka and the BC Liberals are calling on John Horgan’s NDP government to immediately provide an extension to commercial drivers scheduled to take their Class 1 road test, so they are not forced to pay thousands of dollars in additional costs.
ICBC suspended road tests from March 17 to July 20, 2020, extending an already significant waitlist. As a result, there are drivers who booked their Class 1 exam in the spring who are still waiting to take their tests, the BC Liberals pointed out in a media release.
Rather than stepping in and providing accommodation for those in the queue for tests, the government has doubled down on their deadline. The Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) training that will be required starting October 18, is expected to cost around $15,000 per driver.
“Over the past few months, I have heard from many who have gone through the examination process exactly how they are supposed to, and yet are now stuck in this frustrating, and potentially costly, situation. Especially as this province is facing a growing labour shortage, government needs to step in, provide accommodation for those caught on the waitlist, and ensure that people can get to work and make a livelihood after an extremely difficult 18 months and goods can keep moving,” stated Shypitka.
“Due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many drivers who booked their Class 1 road test months ago still have not been able to take it, leaving them without certification before the government’s new Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) comes into effect,” added Mike Morris, BC Liberal Critic for Public Safety and Solicitor General. “This means that, through no fault of their own, applicants already in the queue to take their test may face unanticipated expenses in the thousands of dollars only because there are not enough examination opportunities to clear the waitlist before the deadline. We are calling on the NDP government to take urgent steps so the applicants who scheduled their test before the October 18, 2021 deadline are not left paying out of pocket.”
“After the horrific crash involving the Humboldt Broncos, the provincial government moved to improve driving training — a move supported by the industry and, quite frankly, everybody on this side of the House. Drivers would have the opportunity to pass a test proving their skills before the new regulations came into effect. Again, all good.
“But then the pandemic hit and ICBC has not offered the spaces for road tests. Darren Hudson applied June 1 for his test and won’t get one until after the rule change comes into effect on October 18. That decision could cost him up to $15,000,” Shypitka shared.
“One company in my riding faces hard costs of about $55,000 and a total loss of $115,000, because ICBC has failed to deliver the road tests on time. Today the province doubled down on penalizing these drivers who are ready to do the right thing.
“To the Premier, a very simple question: will you do the right thing and grandfather those who, because of ICBC backlogs, can’t do the road test, instead of driving them into debt and out of business?”
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth replied: “We are aware of the issue with ICBC and the road tests, and we are working to ensure that people who need to get the tests are able to get those tests.”
“This is about fairness and the fact that people should not be punished for a backlog of tests that is entirely out of their control,” Shypitka explained.
e-KNOW file photo