‘Retraining commitments like this one reassure Albertans, and investors, that our province is committed to building a resilient supply chain’
Alberta is investing $5 million through the Driving Back to Work grant program to help train commercial Class 1 or tractor-trailer drivers in the province.
The program will cover up to 90 per cent of the cost of Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) to help eligible unemployed Albertans get their Class 1 commercial truck driver’s licence and pursue careers as professional truck drivers.
“We’ve heard the trucking industry’s concerns on driver shortages and costs loud and clear. The Driving Back to Work grant successfully funded commercial driver training for 300 Albertans last year. It was so successful that in Budget 2021 we’re spending $5 million more so another 500 Albertans can start new careers with well-paid trucking jobs,” said Ric McIver, minister of transportation.
The industry has warned of a potential shortage of 3,600 commercial truck drivers in Alberta by 2023, according to the government.
MELT is a required training program for new Class 1 and Class 2 (bus) drivers taught at driver training schools and organizations across Alberta. It includes mandatory, standardized driver training curriculums with set hours for in-class, in-yard and in-vehicle training.
Training gaps in licensing is one of the top 10 causes of driver fatigue in Ontario, according to a report. In November 2020, Transport Canada updated the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees to better reflect the latest science on fatigue management.
The Driving Back to Work grant was originally announced in November 2020 with $3 million in funding to help 300 unemployed Albertans earn their Class 1 licence. The grant will cover the estimated $8,900 of the cost of the MELT program. Unemployed Albertans must qualify for employment insurance and can apply for the grant online.
“Commercial trucking is an essential service. Our industries are facing driver shortages at a time when demand is rising and technology is rapidly changing how we operate. Reducing barriers to entry for new commercial drivers, and helping transition experienced workers into our industry, helps grow Alberta's economy,” said Jude Groves, board chair, Alberta Motor Transport Association.
“Retraining commitments like this one reassure Albertans, and investors, that our province is committed to building a resilient supply chain and creating the jobs we need to keep goods moving to market safely and efficiently.”
Alberta’s government also launched the Experience and Equivalency Class 1 MELT Training Program in November 2020 to help Class 3 drivers upgrade their skills The Class 3 Experience and Equivalency program gives Class 3 drivers with a minimum of two years of experience the opportunity to take a 40-hour Class 1 training upgrade instead of the 113-hour Class 1 MELT program, which is focused on new drivers.