Alberta farmers given extension on new driver training rules for Class 1, Class 2 licences

The provincial government is extending the deadline for farm workers to comply with new training requirements for commercial drivers.

Province extends deadline until 2020 'to avoid undue pressure on seeding and harvesting operations'

New training for drivers applying for a Class 1 or Class 2 driver’s licence in Alberta comes into force on March 1, but farmers have been given a one-year extension. (Don Somers/CBC)

The provincial government is extending the deadline for farm workers to comply with new training requirements for commercial drivers.

Alberta is introducing a Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program for drivers applying for a Class 1 or Class 2 driver's licence.

The new requirement comes into effect on March 1.

But on Wednesday, the province announced it is extending the deadline for farm workers by one year "to avoid undue pressure on seeding and harvesting operations this year."

Team Alberta — representing pulse growers, wheat and barley producers and others — had lobbied for the extension, arguing the change would hurt their operations.

"We're happy with the announcement but we'll stay in consultation," said Gary Stanford with TEAM Alberta.

Stanford says they want to work on the training to make it better suit the needs of seasonal farm workers.

Change came after Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The courses for Class 1 and Class 2 drivers are going from a 10-day class to a month's worth of training.

The changes were introduced last summer in response to the deadly crash in Saskatchewan involving an Alberta-registered truck and a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.

"It's about safety it's about making sure our roads are safe," Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier said.

Here's how the new process will work:

  • Eligible farm workers can apply to Alberta Transportation for the MELT deadline extension between March 15 and Nov. 30, 2019.
  • Once the application is approved, drivers will be allowed to take the pre-MELT knowledge and road tests for a Class 1 licence.
  • Successful applicants must get their Class 1 licence by Nov. 30, 2019.
  • Applicants seeking to retain their Class 1 licence for future farming seasons will be required to complete the enhanced Class 1 knowledge and road tests based on the new MELT curriculum before March 1, 2020.

With files from Helen Pike

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