The Government of Saskatchewan is introducing mandatory training for semi-truck drivers.
Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave was in Regina Monday morning to announce that as of March 15th, 2019, all who seek a Class 1 commercial license to drive a semi-truck will be required to take 121.5 hours of training, at the minimum.
#BREAKING: As of March 15th, 2019 seeking a Class 1 commercial license in #Sask for semi truck driving will need 121.5 hrs of required training.@620ckrm @CKRMnews #skpoli #SK #news pic.twitter.com/H0DZ5V51ZX
— David Boles (@DavidJBoles) December 3, 2018
“It’s all about safety on the highways,” said Hargrave. “Better trained drivers and rigorous testing will make our roads safer.”
The new and enhanced cirriculum includes 47 hours of in-class training, 57 hours behind the wheel and 17.5 hours of training in the yard, with the focus being placed on items including basic driving techniques, professional driving habits, vehicle inspections and air brakes. Training schools responsible for carrying out the cirriculum will receive instruction on how to deliver it.
Current Class 1 drivers will be grandfathered in on the implementation date.
The Government of Alberta announced mandatory entry-level for March 2019, but has yet to detail the hours required. At this time, Ontario is the only province with mandated training, as semi drivers must undergo a minimum of 103.5 hours. Hargrave said they referenced their training guide to form their own.
“Saskatchewan’s different from Ontario. We just thought we needed more hours in the seat, primarily.”
Hargrave said they’ve consulted in groups with Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and Transport Canada to see if there can an established basic minimum training guideline across Western Canada.
SGI began looking into the changes in the summer of 2017, before the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, which Hargrave admitted affected everyone in the trucking industry.
- BREAKING: 14 killed,14 injured after Humboldt Broncos team bus is hit by semi en route to Nipawin
- Vigil planned for Humboldt Broncos Sunday night
“That tragedy always brings it more to bear, just because it was such a tragic thing that happened.”
STA approves of Sask. Government announcement
Early reaction to the announcement has been positive.
“I think we’ve done a really good job. I’m really pleased with what’s happened today,” said Susan Ewart, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association.
As a result of the increased hours, the cost of the course is increasing, from $3,000 to $6,000 to $8,500 range, for which Minister Hargrave noted there’s talks about possible grants to help cover the cost of the new training.
However, Ewart believes that won’t be a deterrent to those looking to enter the industry.
“I think that it does increase that level of professionalism that the industry is looking for.
More consultation is needed to get towards the goal of having Saskatchewan roads be some of the safest roads in Canada, but Ewart said that’s not too much of a concern today.
“I feel like we’ll get there, we’ll get some training standards there as well.”
(with files from Drew Postey)