Alberta’s driver examiners are threatening to walk off the job this week if the provincial government doesn’t meet their demands ahead of the deprivatization of their industry.
Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced in October the province was taking back driver’s licence road testing from the private sector, one of several changes proposed following the devastating Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April that claimed the lives of 16 people.
The change takes effect March 1, but months ahead of that date, examiners are calling for what they call “fair market value” for business or they’ll be walking off the job.
In a letter obtained from Global News, sent from the Certified Driver Examiners Association (CDEA) to Mason dated Dec. 17, 2018, the group which represents the province’s examiners said it’s unhappy with the government’s process.
“The Government of Alberta has not disclosed many of the important particulars regarding the implementation of the proposed publicly-run driver testing regime to CDEA or otherwise,” the letter reads.
LISTEN: Pete Llewellyn, executive director of the Certified Driver Examiner’s Association, joins Danielle Smith to discuss the government’s process so far
The organization is calling on the government to make satisfactory financial settlements with all privately-employed drivers being impacted by the change, review salary proposals for examiners that would be employed by the province and to review the compensation being offered to examiners operating their own businesses.
The letter said the CDEA wanted the demands met by Jan. 9, 2019 — this Wednesday. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll stop road testing on Thursday.
Watch from October 2018: Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced on Tuesday that the Alberta government is taking back carrying out driver licence road tests from the private sector, effective March 1, 2019.
An earlier letter was also sent to Mason following a Nov. 28, 2018 meeting regarding the CDEA’s concerns around compensation for privately-employed examiners who would be working for the province as of March.
Global News also obtained a letter sent to Premier Rachel Notley from the CDEA, asking for a response by Oct. 19, 2019, saying, “We expect compensation for our businesses. We are willing to negotiate with the government a ‘fair market value’ based on comparable case law.”
“We have been unsuccessful in eliciting any response to this issue or any of the issues we have raised with Mr. Mason to date,” the letter reads.
According to Pete Llewellyn, the executive director of the CDEA, the province’s examiners are paid by exam, and earn a yearly wage between $75,000 and $125,000 a year. He said their wages have to cover examiners’ insurance, mileage, corporate taxes and travel to different locations for exams, which can sometimes be far distances.
He expects that under the province, the examiners will be paid about 50 per cent of that. He added that any work stoppage would impact 100 to 200 people per day in the slower, winter season.
The Ministry of Transportation said in an emailed statement to Global News that it had received the letter which was being reviewed by the government’s legal team.
“Alberta Transportation department officials have analyzed the potential for a work stoppage by the members of the CDEA,” the statement reads. “I want to assure the public that should any job action take place, any disruptions in service will be minimal.
“We are continuing the process of hiring driver examiners who will operate under the new model effective March 1.”
There are 146 examiners currently working in the province, Mason said. Sixty-six examiners have formally been hired to work for the government starting in March, with another 23 offers pending. He said more than 60 per cent of the CDEA membership has been offered jobs.
“Following a scan of salaries that are paid to driver examiners across the country, Albertans should also be aware that driver examiners here will be compensated at a higher rate than examiners in any other province,” Mason said.