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MPI backlog frustrates truckers waiting for road tests

Manitoba Public Insurance.
Manitoba Public Insurance. Global News / File

The backlog at Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) continues to be a source of frustration for local drivers of all types, but especially so for the trucking industry.

A transport supervisor at a local excavation business told 680 CJOB the inability to have his drivers take a road test for their Class 1 licences puts his company in a difficult position.

READ MORE: MPI call centre still swamped, taking five times last year’s call volume

Elite Excavating’s Justin Burla said he has two drivers ready to take their Class 1 tests – having completed extensive, supervised in-car training – but MPI is so swamped there’s no room to book the road tests.

“They only book 60 days in advance, so that means every single appointment in Manitoba is booked solid for the next 60 days,” said Burla.

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“We get into the office in the morning, and every day at 8:30, when MPI opens, we call and hope that someone has cancelled one of the appointments they’ve booked in that 60 days, and we can take that spot.”

So far, though, he said he hasn’t had any luck.

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

Burla said taking a road test outside of Winnipeg means there will be potentially less of a backlog, but it’s not financially feasible for his company.

He said he estimates a trip to be tested in Dauphin, for example, would cost over $2,000 all-told – $500 in fuel, $600 in wages, and at least $1,000 lost profit on the truck being unavailable for the day.

“That’s a pretty big expense to take on for somebody who could’ve gone for a road test in Winnipeg,” said Burla.

“Sometimes we do have to turn down a road test in The Pas, which is a 16-hour round trip. There’s no way I can shut down a truck, and we’re also losing profit on that truck to shut it down for an entire day. There’s a lot of cost connected to training these guys.”

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MPI has been under fire for most of the last month due to its call centre being overwhelmed with calls – five times greater than last year’s total over the same period – as well as a higher-than-expected number of out-of-province drivers coming to Manitoba to take advantage of trucking jobs.

WATCH: More Manitoba drivers fail getting their licence than truck drivers getting theirs: MPI

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More Manitoba drivers fail getting their licence than truck drivers getting theirs: MPI