December 7, 2018 5:08 pm
Updated: December 7, 2018 6:32 pm

Sask. farmers exempt from mandatory semi driver training, but that could change

New semi-driver training rules were put on fast-track following the Humboldt hockey tragedy in April. The province introduced mandatory training legislation for semi-drivers this week, but it doesn’t apply to everyone. Marney Blunt explains.

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Earlier this week, the province introduced legislation for mandatory semi driver training in Saskatchewan; a move that was fast tracked after the Humboldt hockey tragedy April 6, 2018.

As of March 15, 2019, drivers seeking a commercial Class 1 license will be required to perform a minimum of 121.5 hours of training.

But one key demographic in Saskatchewan is an exception to that rule: Farmers.

The Saskatchewan Trucking Association wants to see that change.

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“Our association believes that farmers should not be exempt,” Saskatchewan Trucking Association executive director Susan Ewart said. “We are going to continue to have conversations and discuss with the ministry what sort of level of training the farm sector needs in our province.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan introduces mandatory semi truck driver training after Humboldt Broncos tragedy

Ontario also has mandatory training legislation for semi drivers, and it includes farmers.

Ewart also echoes a statement released by the Canadian Trucking Alliance this week, that “safety is safety.”

“There is a lot of skill that is required to drive those vehicles, and it’s not only actual driving it’s also the regulations that go along with operating both within our province and outside of our province,” she said.

It’s a sentiment that isn’t being met with much opposition from the agriculture industry.

“The concept of mandatory training for the ‘F’ designation is very important, I think farmers are on side with that. I don’t see any issue with it at all,” Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan president Todd Lewis said, adding that many farmers hire commercial drivers for transporting grain.

READ MORE: Manitoba trucking industry wants higher mandatory standards for driver training

Both Ewart and Lewis said we can expect to see some changes for farmers down the line. The province will consult with both the trucking and agricultural industries to determine a level of training that works for those in the farming industry.

“If you’re going to drive your truck on the farm, that’s one thing. If you’re going to do more commercial-style trucking; well the training is there for commercial trucking as well,” Lewis said.

“Agriculture is a big industry in this province. I think the stats say over half of the tractor-trailers are licensed to farmers, so let’s make sure we get that training geared towards what farmers are actually doing with those trucks and make sure they get proper training”

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