MEDICINE HAT, AB — 25 years after road testing for drivers was privatized in Alberta, the provincial government will be once again administering the tests.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Transportation Minister Brian Mason and Service Alberta Minister Brian Malkinson announced that starting on March 1, 2019, all driver’s tests in Alberta will be administered by provincial employees, rather than private companies.
“With these changes, we’re treating the job of driver examiner like the professional career that it should be,” said Mason.
This fall, the government will begin recruiting, hiring and training examiners to conduct road tests for all examiners, hoping to have 161 in place. Mason indicated they’re looking to hire current examiners to help fill the positions.
“Examiners will be subject to the government’s code of conduct, and be supervised as public servants, rather than operate as independent, unregulated contractors” said Mason during a press conference in Edmonton.
Road testing was privatized under Premier Ralph Klein in 1993, and Alberta is currently the only province with a fully privatized road test system. Mason called the current testing a “Wild West” system “that has not served Albertans well,” noting they receive an average of seven complaints a day regarding the testing.
“People being failed so they have to pay a fee to retest, that kind of thing,” he said. “There’s some question regarding some people being passed that maybe shouldn’t be. There’s instances of harassment and even assault. It’s pretty clear that we have a system that’s broken, and we need to fix it.”
The changes will also include a standardized fee schedule for driver’s tests and create a call centre to report issues that may arise during tests and establishing a review process. Mason adds the province will also create an online site to book driver’s tests, with the goal of improving access for rural Albertans.
“Our goal is to provide a driver examination program that is fair, consistent, accessible and trustworthy,” he said. “A government run program will ensure higher standards for conduct, and make safe, professional services available for all Albertans.”
Malkinson says Registry Alberta will continue to play a role once the new system is in place, issuing the licence once a person passes the test.
Mason says the current tests for drivers will remain the same, with the exception of Class 1 and 2 driver tests. An announcement on changes for licensing in those classes is expected within “one or two weeks,” he said.
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