Improving road test service for Alberta drivers
October 02, 2018
from a news release issued by the Government of Alberta
Changes to the province’s road test model will improve access for rural communities and enhance service for all drivers.
Alberta is the only province in Canada with a completely privatized road test framework. The current system, with limited oversight, is vulnerable to many problems, such as inconsistent fees, poor service, reduced access in rural areas and an overall lack of integrity.
Following consultation with industry stakeholders and Albertans, the province is moving forward with changes to the road test model for all driver’s licence classes.
Effective March 1, 2019, all driver examinations will be conducted by Government of Alberta employees. Fees for road tests for all classes of driver’s licences will be standardized and services will be accessible at registry agent locations across the province.
“Albertans deserve a system for road tests that meets high standards for being fair, consistent, accessible and trustworthy. We are taking action to change the way road tests are conducted to restore public confidence in the program. A government-run road test system will ensure high standards for safe, consistent, reliable service across Alberta.”
“We are taking steps to ensure Alberta’s driver examination model is safe, transparent and secure. We committed to consulting and working with registry agents, and we did just that. These changes maintain the vital role that registry agents play in our system and ensure that the important frontline services they provide will continue to be available to Albertans in their communities.”
The province will immediately begin recruiting and training driver examiners to conduct all road tests as government employees.
Benefits of a government-run road test model include:
- Standardized fees to ensure everyone pays the same price for the same service.
- Enhanced oversight to ensure road test services are conducted fairly, consistently and professionally.
- A call centre to receive complaints and coordinate responses effectively.
- Mobile driver examiners using tablet and GPS technology to enhance accessibility across the province, especially in rural areas.
- Online and in-person scheduling.
- Benefits and professional development opportunities for driver examiners.
- Prior to 1993, all driver examiners were government employees.
- On average, Alberta Transportation receives seven complaints about driver examinations every weekday.
- More than 200,000 road tests for all driver’s licence classes were conducted in Alberta in 2016.
- There are 153 privatized driver examiners currently operating in Alberta.
Regulator rules in favour of Trans Mountain route deviation
Workers place pipe during construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on farmland, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
By Amanda Stephenson in Calgary
The Canada Energy Regulator has approved Trans Mountain Corp.’s application to modify the pipeline’s route, a decision that could spare the government-owned pipeline project from an additional nine-month delay.
The regulator made the ruling Tuesday, just one week after hearing oral arguments from Trans Mountain and a B.C. First Nation that opposes the route change.
It didn’t release the reasons for its decision Tuesday, saying those will be publicized in the coming weeks.
By siding with Trans Mountain Corp., the regulator is allowing the pipeline company to alter the route slightly for a 1.3-kilometre stretch of pipe in the Jacko Lake area near Kamloops, B.C., as well as the construction method for that section.
Trans Mountain Corp. had said it ran into engineering difficulties in the area related to the construction of a tunnel, and warned that sticking to the original route could result in up to a nine-month delay in the pipeline’s completion, as well as an additional $86 million more in project costs.
Trans Mountain has been hoping to have the pipeline completed by early 2024.
But Trans Mountain’s application was opposed by the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation, whose traditional territory the pipeline crosses and who had only agreed to the originally proposed route.
In their regulatory filing, the First Nation stated the area has “profound spiritual and cultural significance” to their people, and that they only consented to the pipeline’s construction with the understanding that Trans Mountain would minimize surface disturbances by implementing specific trenchless construction methods.
The Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc argued that Trans Mountain never said its originally proposed construction method was impossible, only that it couldn’t be done in time to meet a Jan. 1 in-service date for the pipeline.
The First Nation didn’t respond to a request for comment by publication time.
The Trans Mountain pipeline is Canada’s only pipeline system transporting oil from Alberta to the West Coast. Its expansion, which is currently underway, will boost the pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 300,000 bpd currently.
The pipeline — which was bought by the federal government for $4.5 billion in 2018 after previous owner Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. threatened to scrap the pipeline’s planned expansion project in the face of environmentalist opposition and regulatory hurdles — has already been plagued by construction-related challenges and delays.
Its projected price tag has since spiralled: first to $12.6 billion, then to $21.4 billion and most recently to $30.9 billion (the most recent capital cost estimate, as of March of this year).
Keith Stewart with Greenpeace Canada said it’s alarming to see the regulator over-rule the wishes of Indigenous people in order to complete a pipeline on deadline.
“Every Canadian should be outraged that our public regulator is allowing a publicly owned pipeline to break a promise to Indigenous people to protect lands of spiritual and cultural significance,” Stewart said.
The federal government has already approved a total of $13 billion in loan guarantees to help Trans Mountain secure the financing to cover the cost overruns.
Trans Mountain Corp. has blamed its budget problems on a variety of factors, including inflation, COVID-19, labour and supply chain challenges, flooding in B.C. and unexpected major archeological discoveries along the route.
Given the Canadian regulatory system has a reputation for being slow and cumbersome, it was surprising to see the Canada Energy Regulator rule so quickly on Trans Mountain’s route deviation request, said Richard Masson, executive fellow with the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.
“It’s a challenging decision to have to make, when you’ve got a $30 billion pipeline that needs to be completed,” Masson said.
“If there’s no feasible way to do that tunnel, then I guess you have to allow for this.”
Masson added that if the regulator had denied Trans Mountain’s request, it would have been bad news for taxpayers as well as the federal government, which is seeking to divest the pipeline and has already entered into negotiations with several interested Indigenous-led buyers.
It also would have been bad news for Canadian oil companies, who have been eagerly anticipating the pipeline’s start date to begin shipping barrels to customers.
“If this can result in the pipeline being completed by year-end and started up in the first quarter, that’s good news. The world is still looking for oil, and oil prices are up at US$90 a barrel,” Masson said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2023.
CP NewsAlert: Quebec police say three fishers are dead after boat sinks
MONTREAL — Quebec provincial police say three people are dead after a fishing boat sunk off the province’s Lower North Shore.
Police say six people were aboard the boat out of Blanc Sablon, Que., when it ran into trouble around midnight.
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