Farm workers have until March 2021 to pass pre-MELT classes
By Diego Flammini
Alberta is giving its ag community more time to adhere to commercial trucking requirements.
On Friday, the UCP government announced that farmers and farm workers have until Nov. 30, 2020 to apply for an extension to comply with the Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for drivers seeking a Class 1 or 2 driver’s licence.
Those who apply for, and are granted the extension, will have until March 1, 2021 to take and pass pre-MELT testing. February 28, 2021 is the final day to take the necessary testing, the government said.
The former NDP government created the standardized testing requirement after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018. The mandatory testing came into effect on March 1, 2019.
The current government is also providing extensions to school bus drivers because both industries require it, said Ric McIver, Alberta’s transportation minister.
“The school bus driver and farming industries are highly flexible, seasonal industries that indicated they need more time to adjust to MELT requirements,” he said in a statement, the Calgary Herald reported. “This extension ensures these key industries can continue their work without disruption, particularly during the busy back-to-school and harvest seasons.”
Farmers appreciate the government’s willingness to provide extensions.
But producers who don’t put a lot of kilometres on trucks shouldn’t have to take the course at all, said Bruce Thomi, a cash crop grower from Woking, Alta.
“The extension is good if we have to do it,” he told Farms.com. “But for (farmers) who only go from the farm to the elevator and back, I don’t think we should have to do it. The professional truckers, though, who drive for 13 hours a day and put lots of miles on the trucks, they should need to take the courses.”