Transportation Ric McIver announced changes to how the province will do driver’s exams Thursday morning.
by Stephen Dafoe
The Government of Alberta announced Thursday Class 4, 5, and 6 driver exams would be privatized, a move the UCP says will provide quicker access to road tests. Starting Dec. 1, Albertans can book road tests with local registry agents, who will contract directly with driver examiners.
There will also be an online booking option that will connect drivers directly with their local registry agent.
The UCP says the re-privatization will repair “damage done” when road tests were nationalized in March 2019. That decision, the UCP says, led to 50 per cent of examiners leaving the system and increased wait times.
“We know Albertans have been frustrated with long delays to get a road test,” said Minister of Transportation Ric McIver in a media release Thursday. “Returning to a privately run model will restore a system which Albertans used for years with confidence.”
NDP Opposition Critic Rod Loyola said the NDP inherited a broken driver testing system from the Conservatives.
“It cost Albertans too much and offered no protections against examiners behaving inappropriately or repeatedly failing new drivers in order to bill them for several tests,” Loyola said. “We drove down costs and improved service levels, particularly in rural Alberta.”
Loyola went on to say Albertans were misled in 2019 by the new UCP Minister of Transportation, who said the number of examiners was down across the province.
“[T]he truth is full-time equivalent capacity was up,” Loyola said. “The UCP government failed to plan appropriately when they shut down testing due to COVID-19, and now their backlog is out of control.”
The Association of Alberta Registry Agents (AARA) welcomed Thursday’s announcement as a move that will not only reduce wait times but support small businesses.
“Timely access to road testing is essential for Albertans,” said AARA President Craig Couillard in a release. “Our members and their customers have expressed frustration with the large backlog for road tests that has been exacerbated by the current pandemic. ”
More information on Thursday’s announcement can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/drivers-road-test.aspx.