Farm workers have until March 1, 2020 to comply with new requirements
By Diego Flammini
Alberta farm workers looking to obtain a Class 1 or Class 2 driver’s license will now have more time to meet new safety requirements.
The provincial government extended the deadline to complete the Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program to March 1, 2020 from the original deadline of March 1, 2019.
The new requirements come into effect on March 1, 2019.
Farm workers will not need to take the MELT courses for the 2019 farming season.
MELT requirements for new Class 1 drivers include 113 hours of training. New Class 2 drivers must complete 50 hours of training.
Existing Class 1 or 2 license holders who received licenses before Oct. 11, 2018 do not have to enroll in the MELT program.
Eligible farm workers can apply to Alberta Transportation for the MELT deadline extension between March 15 and Nov. 30 of this year. They must also identify themselves as farmers or farm workers.
Producers are happy with the extended deadline because it gives them and their employees more time to prepare, said Keith Gilchrist, a producer from Pickardville, Alta. and member of the Prairie Oat Growers Association’s board of directors.
“I think pushing the deadline back is a good thing,” he told Farms.com. “It will let drivers looking to get a Class 1 or 2 license do so without so much hassle. I think the original timeline was just too tight of a window and may have caused issues for growers.
“Farmers want to have safe drivers on the road just like anybody else, and this just gives us more time to” do that.
Giving the ag industry a full year to comply with MELT requirements will also prevent the transport ministry from falling behind.
“In many instances, farmers were finding it impossible to access current services to obtain a Class 1 license under the current rules,” Gary Stanford, chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission, said in a statement. “This gives us some breathing room when the new regulations come into effect and time to discuss the implications of this policy on the agriculture industry.”