Manitoba farmers are voicing the same concerns about trucker training regulations as heard recently from farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
A number of farmers at Keystone Agricultural Producers annual meeting expressed concern that some proposed training rules could stop some farmers from being able to obtain Class 1 licences.
“I think it’s very unfair to farmers to make them go out and go to school to drive a truck,” said Edward Maendel, who noted that his Hutterite colony has its own truck-driving trainer with decades of experience.
Provincial governments across Western Canada have moved to toughen trucking regulations in the wake of the tragedy in which the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus collided with a tractor-trailer on April 6 last year. Many believe inadequate training and professionalism contributed to the accident that left 16 dead and 13 injured.
However, many farmers have been worried that they risk being caught up in too-onerous training requirements that are meant to apply to professional drivers.
Estimates of $8,000 and 120 hours of training required to obtain a trucking licence worry many farmers.
“For farmers, that is impractical,” said Carter McKinney. “For a farmer to take six weeks off to get a Class 1 is just not feasible.”
Another said many young farmers already have to hold an off-farm job in order to support themselves, and their employers are unlikely to give them weeks off to take the training.
KAP delegates debated and passed a motion calling for Manitoba to standardize its regulations with Saskatchewan, which has an exemption for farmers from some elements of new driving regulations.
“I think everybody believes in some kind of training, without question on the safety side … but let’s make sure the training we’re taking has an agricultural focus,” said Todd Lewis, president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.