'We need to be trained properly': Sask. farm group welcomes mandatory semi training
Farmers will soon be required to take a training course before transporting goods by semi-trailer
Semi driver training will soon be mandatory for Saskatchewan farmers who use semi trucks, a change welcomed by experts, by the mother of a Humboldt Broncos crash victim and by farmers themselves.
"We need to be trained properly. We recognize training is important," said Todd Lewis, President of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
Farmers had been exempt from the training, but the provincial government announced Wednesday that will end next year. Lewis said he appreciates the phase-in period.
Starting March 1, 2020, those driving semis will be required to take at least 40 hours of training. In 2021, they'll be required to take the full 121 hours of training required by all commercial semi drivers.
"It'll be a good thing. I'm surprised it came so quickly," said Carol Brons, whose daughter, Dayna, was killed in 2018 when the Broncos bus collided with a semi.
"I'm glad they've changed it. It's a good step."
Former driving instructor Mel Meikle, who's been pressing the government on the issue for years, agreed with Brons.
"That is awesome, the best news I've heard," Meikle said. "For the farmers here to have to go through the real course, that's perfect. That is good news."
The changes were announced Wednesday morning by the provincial government.
At the time of the Broncos crash in April of last year, semi driver training was optional in every province except Ontario.
The Saskatchewan government joined Ontario, making training mandatory, but farmers were exempted as long as they didn't leave the province. The decision was criticized by some, but the government said it wanted to conduct further consultation.
Those consultations are now complete, according to a government news release.
"It's a multi-billion dollar industry in Saskatchewan. To take a little extra time to make sure we got things right and consulted with them, we believe that was the right thing to do," Joe Hargrave, Minister responsible for SGI, said.
Brons said she hopes there are more changes to come. She and others are supporting a petition to have the federal government take over semi driver training, rather than leaving it to individual provinces. The petition also calls for semi driving to be considered a profession.