Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) became a new pre-licensing requirement for Class 1 commercial drivers in Alberta on March 1, 2019. Since then, insurance claims have risen for Class 1 drivers and MELT has been identified by the trucking industry as one of the leading factors contributing to the ongoing commercial driver shortage, increasing time and costs for the driver recruitment process.

Industry input found broad support for the continuation of Class 1 pre-licence training, but also included recommendations to improve safety. These recommendations included tiered or restricted Class 1 driver’s licences, more appropriate training for certain industries, increased in-cab training hours to avoid the need for retraining, and an expanded scope of training to include additional competencies for Class 1 driver licensing.

“This is a proactive approach to ensure truck drivers in Alberta have the right training with the right vehicle to perform their jobs professionally and safely. This new learning pathway provides more appropriate training for drivers and ensures Alberta’s truck drivers are the best-trained in the country.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors

In response, the improvements to Class 1 licensing and training are focused on ensuring road safety while developing driver competency throughout a driver’s career. The new made-in-Alberta learning pathway was developed through extensive consultation with a wide range of perspectives in the commercial driving industry and is designed to increase driver skills, improve safety, and create ongoing training for current and prospective Class 1 drivers.

“Working with industry leaders was a key component of our plan to attract and train drivers and develop a new Class 1 learning pathway. Class 1 drivers will now bring better skills and enhanced operational and safety training to the many rewarding opportunities of a career in trucking. I look forward to working with the industry on its recent proposal towards becoming a designated trade.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education

This apprenticeship-style model offers a learning pathway for Albertans to develop the skills to succeed and advance in their career as a professional driver, developing skills as a trainee and building on their skills and experience, with the goal of obtaining a Red Seal designation and the recognition as a professional trade. This also allows drivers to get on the job training in the actual vehicle they will be using each day throughout their career.

“Getting the right people with the right training behind the wheel is critical to the province’s commercial transportation industry and economy. This new made-in-Alberta learning pathway will help train more drivers while securing safety on the province’s highways.”

Doug Paisley, chair, Alberta Motor Transport Association

“The PMTC is pleased to participate in the Transportation and Economic Corridors Commercial Driver Shortage Committee. This committee, which is working on a Learning Pathway for Class 1 Drivers, will serve as the foundation towards a professional designation for drivers.”

Marcel Pouliot, western Canada representative, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada

“Our economy depends on the safe, efficient delivery of goods, and Insurance Bureau of Canada applauds the government for leading the way to support Alberta’s commercial trucking sector. The enhanced focus on training and oversight for Class 1 operators brings the potential to improve road safety, help reduce collisions on our roadways and create new opportunities for drivers to enter this important profession.”

Tim Morrison, director of government relations western and pacific, Insurance Bureau of Canada

“Women Building Futures also sees the huge demand in commercial transportation. Alberta needs more safe, qualified commercial drivers to keep our economy moving, and we are proud to help women shift gears into these roles.”

Carol Moen, president and CEO, Women Building Futures

The new learning pathway also responds to the unique needs of Alberta farmers by exempting them and their immediate family from the requirement for pre-licence training and providing them a farm-restricted Class 1 driver’s licence. This new farm-restricted Class 1 driver’s licence will allow farmers and their immediate family members to operate Class 1 vehicles within Alberta only, and for authorized farm purposes only. Farmers who are eligible for the new farm restricted Class 1 driver’s licence must still complete a knowledge test, road test and vision screening, and submit a driver medical assessment to demonstrate they can safely drive Class 1 vehicles.

“The farmer Class 1 licence exemption is a positive first step to alleviate the trucking shortages impacting farms and ranches. Alberta Beef Producers is looking forward to working with the government and stakeholders on future steps in transportation to ensure a healthy agricultural supply chain for Albertans."

Brodie Haugan, chair, Alberta Beef Producers

"The announced changes are a significant step forward. This exemption aids farmers in overcoming time and financial hurdles and prevents the migration of agricultural drivers to commercial trucking. It recognizes farmers' vital role and acknowledges their unique contributions to Alberta’s economy."

Roger Chevraux, chair, Alberta Canola

Transportation and Economic Corridors will optimize monitoring and oversight of commercial truck drivers, carriers, driving schools, driver instructors and driver examiners to enhance safety on Alberta’s roads. Neighbouring jurisdictions will also be notified of the changes, and drivers without proper Class 1 driver’s licences will be subject to the rules and regulations of those jurisdictions.

Quick facts

  • Budget 2024 invests $41 million over three years ($5 million in 2024-25 and $18 million in each of 2025-26 and 2026-27) in new funding to set up a commercial driver training grant that will support the implementation of a made-in-Alberta learning pathway.
    • This new funding supplements the Driving Back to Work program announced in Budget 2022 to reduce barriers to commercial driver training. The remaining funding in this program is $20 million over the next two years ($10 million annually in 2024-25 and 2025-26).
  • There are more than 149,000 licensed Class 1 drivers in Alberta. However, only 31 per cent are employed as truck drivers.
  • According to Statistics Canada, there are 4,260 commercial truck driver vacancies in Alberta (Quarter 3, 2023) which accounts for 20 per cent of the vacancies in Canada.
  • The program will begin in March 2025.
  • The farmer exemption will be implemented April 1.

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