Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr

MLA Ron Orr: Changes to Mandatory Entry Level Training

Opinion

Alberta is an exporting province, but today it is harder to hire truckers to get our goods to market. Alberta is expected to have a shortage of 3,600 commercial truck drivers by 2023. Without the freight industry to feed our cities and supply the world with our natural resources and manufactured products, our economy will suffer.

We’ve been listening closely to our farmers, foresters, roughnecks, and freight truckers. They’ve told us that cost is the biggest barrier to hiring Albertans to good-paying trucking jobs. The Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) required to get a Class 1 commercial license is necessary to keep Albertans safe on the road. However the average cost of $8,900 in Alberta for the 113 hour course is also prohibitive for many.

That’s why Alberta’s government is making big changes to boost Alberta trucking jobs.

We’re funding the Driving Back to Work grant program to make MELT more affordable. The grant will cover 90% of the training costs for 300 unemployed Albertans.

We want to make sure that applicants for the grant are ready, willing, and able to participate. By having applicants still responsible for a portion of the required costs, we will ensure those who receive the funding are committed to this training.

We’ve also launched the Experience and Equivalency program to reduce the time it takes for Class 3 drivers to upgrade to a Class 1 license. Class 3 drivers with a minimum of two years of experience will have the opportunity to take a 40-hour Class 1 training upgrade instead of the full 113-hour Class 1 MELT. This recognizes the skills many Class 3 drivers have, particularly in our agriculture industry.

Neither of these changes affect the high training and safety standards set out by MELT in order to keep Alberta’s roads safe. All applicants will still be required to pass the Class 1 MELT knowledge and road test to obtain their Class 1 commercial license.

By improving access to trucking jobs, Albertans can get back to work. We will remain focused on Alberta’s economic recovery.

If you have questions or concerns regarding this or any issue, feel free to contact me at my constituency office at 403 782 7725 or by e-mail Lacombe.ponoka@assembly.ab.ca.

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