July 23, 2019 8:55 pm
Updated: July 25, 2019 6:34 pm

United Conservatives look at making Alberta driving exam system private again

WATCH: The Kenney government is planning a change to the current format of booking driving tests in Alberta. Josh Ritchie reports on how the current system has hurt examiners in the industry and how long wait times have affected Albertans. Editorial Note: A previous version of this story said that the Kenney government vowed to reverse the NDP plan by bringing back private driver testing. This has been corrected to say that it is committed to reviewing the current system and making the necessary changes. Global News regrets the error.

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The United Conservative government is considering back-tracking on another one of the former NDP government’s decisions.

On March 1, the NDP changed Alberta’s driver test booking system from private to one that was under government control. Before that, certified examiners operated as private contractors. Drivers booked tests with a registry, which called in an examiner.

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READ MORE: Alberta government taking back driver’s licence road testing from private industry

Since then, some Albertans have had to wait more than six weeks to book a driving exam. Others have been forced to drive to different parts of the province to do the test. Most say the new system is to blame.

The NDP made the change after hearing many complaints about services that were delivered privately. Last year, Transportation Minister Brian Mason described the process as a “wild west” system that needed reform. He said the province received about seven complaints per day about examiners.

READ MORE: MPI backlog frustrates truckers waiting for road tests

The change in system didn’t just affect Albertans; but also those who had ties to the driver examination industry.

“For myself, my business is gone,” Pete Llewellyn, with Certified Driver Examination Association, said. “The whole business model that I worked at for 25 years, the government took away even though I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Watch below (June 24): The complaints are increasing among many Albertans about how long it’s taking to get a driver’s test. Vinesh Pratap has more on what’s being done.

Llewellyn was forced to retire after driving tests went public. He’s not surprised the backups with road tests began when the system shifted.

“Prior to the government repatriation, you could get a road test the same day, definitely the next day in most places in the province of Alberta,” Llewellyn said. “This is not a step forward.”

READ MORE: Service Alberta minister on driver licence road tests changes

The United Conservative government is looking at bringing back private driver testing. How it will work, though, is still up in the air.

“Unfortunately, we are going to have to do it in two steps because we can’t possibly put a new system in place now and make a really bad situation worse,” Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver said.

“We need to put some careful and sober thought into what the next permanent driver examination system that actually works will look like.”

In an emailed statement to Global News, Thomas Dang, the NDP MLA for Edmonton South, said: “Albertans deserve a system for road tests that meets high standards for being fair, consistent, accessible and trustworthy.”

He went on to say that through consultations, the NDP government saw it was “clear a government-run road test system will ensure high standards for conduct and safe, consistent, professional services offered at registry locations across in the province.”

READ MORE: ‘Chaos in the industry’: Complaints mount over new Alberta driver exam system

Now, examiners who were a part of the old system are hoping to have some say in what the new driving examination system will look like.

“We would like to meet with the minister, we would like to share our ideas and move forward,” Llewellyn said. “It’s hard to work on a new model when you don’t include the people that it affects, and that’s examiners.”

Watch below (Oct. 2, 2018): Alberta is ditching its privatized model for road testing and will administer road exams directly to new drivers. Kendra Slugoski explains from the Alberta Legislature.

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