February 26, 2019 1:04 pm
Updated: February 27, 2019 4:31 pm

Manitoba Trucking Association calls for mandatory training nation-wide in wake of Humboldt coroner’s report

A memorial for the 2018 crash where 16 people died and 13 injured when a truck collided with the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus, is shown at the crash site Jan. 30, 2019 in Tisdale, Sask.

Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press
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The Manitoba Trucking Agency agrees with recommendations made in the wake of last year’s Humboldt crash, especially when it comes to mandatory training.

The coroner’s office in Saskatchewan released its report Monday, and it calls for better and tougher enforcement of trucking rules, mandatory training, a review of signage at rural intersections and mandatory seatbelts on buses that travel the highways.

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There are few surprises in the report, said Terry Shaw of the Manitoba Trucking Association.

READ MORE: Humboldt crash coroner’s report calls for mandatory bus seatbelts, improved victim ID system

“We’ve been promoting mandatory pre-licencing training for years and post-Humboldt, that’s finally gained some public attention,” said Shaw.

The crash happened in Saskatchewan with an Alberta-licenced driver, and it could have happened anywhere in Canada, said Shaw.

“What we need is national standards,” he said. “We need to see harmonization to the highest standard, not the lowest standard.”

While that may be years or decades away, Shaw said the first step is mandatory training in all provinces and territories before a driver is licenced to be a Class 1 licence holder.

In a statement, Transport Canada said they are developing a national standard for entry-level commercial drivers, expected in January 2020.

There currently is a national standard, said Shaw, but added “where it breaks down is that they delegate authority for interpretation and implementation for those rules provincially.

“Those rules get interpreted differently, applied differently … and we see some dramatic differences across the provinces.”

The federal agency is also finalizing technical standards for electronic logging devices. That is scheduled to be released later this spring.

READ MORE: Ryan Straschnitzki, paralyzed in Humboldt Broncos crash, plans for experimental procedure in Thailand

Transport Canada announced in June that the department will require all newly built highway buses to have seatbelts by September 2020. Some charter bus companies say many new vehicles already have seatbelts, although there is no way to ensure passengers are wearing them.

“I know there was a lot of damage done to the bus, but still people were thrown about and thrown and ejected from the bus,” said Chief Coroner Clive Weighill.

“We can’t say for sure if that would have made a big substantial difference to the injuries, but we feel it would lead to a safer environment.”

The office made recommendations to six different Saskatchewan government agencies after reviewing the crash.

Evan Thomas of Saskatoon was among 16 people killed last April when a semi truck barrelled through a stop sign at a rural crossroads north of Tisdale and into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus. Thirteen others on the bus were injured.

“A tragedy this size, it can’t just be one thing that went wrong,” his father, Scott Thomas, said Monday.

Thomas said the coroner’s findings provide him with a sense of justification for some of the things that he and other families have been hoping to change.

READ MORE: Lawyer concerned about driving regulations following Humboldt Broncos bus crash hearing

What hit home for Thomas are the recommendations directed to Transport Canada for mandatory seatbelts and improving national safety codes for driver training and electronic logging.

“To me this has to be a nationally regulated profession and these guys should be treated as professionals just like airplane pilots are.”

Thomas said he believes Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who is waiting to be sentenced for causing the crash, never should have been behind the wheel in the first place.

-With files from David Baxter and Hal Anderson

WATCH: Coroner’s office recommends mandatory seatbelts on highway buses

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