'Our loss can't mean nothing': Mother of Humboldt Broncos therapist pleads for mandatory semi driver training
Federal, provincial transport ministers meet Monday in Montreal to consider changes
Carol and Lyle Brons say nothing can bring back their daughter, Dayna, who was killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, but that there is something politicians can do for others.
Federal and provincial transport ministers are meeting Monday in Montreal. The Brons family is pleading with them to make training mandatory for semi truck drivers.
"Our loss can't mean nothing. I mean, it'd be very heartbreaking — as much pain as we're going through now — to think that pain doesn't count for anything," Carol Brons said in an interview with CBC News from her home in Lake Lenore, Sask.
Sixteen people were killed and 13 others injured when the Humboldt Broncos bus crashed into a semi trailer in rural Saskatchewan last April. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of the semi, has pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Sidhu was not drinking, texting or speeding, but admits he ran through a stop sign at up to 96 km/h according to documents.
At the moment, only Ontario requires semi drivers to take a training course. Alberta and Saskatchewan are bringing in similar rules in the spring. Farmers will be exempt in Saskatchewan as long as they don't leave the province.
Critics say progress is being made, but that the changes are also creating an inconsistent "patchwork" of rules across the country. They say it makes no sense because semi drivers regularly cross provincial borders.
Lyle Brons has worked as a semi driver. He said he took a training course and was mentored by older drivers in his company. He said that's not always the case and he can't believe there are still no requirements for training.
"You can read a book, write a couple of multiple-choice tests and take a road test and get your licence and be on the road driving a 144,000-pound truck in a matter of days," he said.
The Brons family supports a petition demanding national mandatory training. It was started by an Alberta woman, Patti Babij, whose husband was killed in a crash with a semi.
Carol Brons said the petition has more than 1,200 names and has been endorsed by Kelly Block, MP for Humboldt, Sask.
She said she knows some people oppose government regulation or worry about the cost of a semi driver-training program. She said those should not be the main concerns.
"Of course it's going to cost money, but they can trade places with me any day. I don't think they'd give up a child," she said. "Nobody would trade places with any of us. To put a price tag on that is very disheartening."
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau's office has said mandatory training is a good idea, but wouldn't say whether the federal government will take over. Academics have noted provinces currently set the rules, but said the federal government has the power to intervene and set national standards.
Joe Hargrave, Minister of Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said he's optimistic semi driver training will soon be mandatory in every province. He expects everyone to reach a consensus in Montreal.
"I know all the provinces are looking at it," Hargrave said. "I expect to see it across the country in a very short time anyway, without the federal government mandating it."