Our Two Cents

MTO DriveTest advisory

Not a single commercial driver license has been issued or renewed in Ontario since DriveTest workers walked off the job on August 21 over job security issues. Unionized employees of Serco DES Inc. conduct driver license examinations on behalf of Ontario's Ministry of Transportation. Their job action has brought to a halt to all driver license testing, including written and road tests for Class A and Class D commercial drivers.

The strike affects novice drivers, drivers who must re-rewrite their commercial vehicle licenses, and over-65 truck drivers who have to perform on-road retests.

Drivers affected by this strike who may now possess expired driver licenses or whose licenses are set to expire in the near future may continue to operate vehicles under a provisional license extension regulation passed in Ontario on August 24 (Ontario Regulation 318/09). Ministry of Transport (MTO) officials have notified enforcement agencies in Ontario and the rest of Canada of the situation, and they have agreed to allow extensions of apparently expired licenses.   
The ministry also claims it has done everything possible to notify police, border officials, and licensing authorities across North America about the temporary regulation and the service disruption in Ontario. MTO says it has also issued notices to the Canadian Border Services Agency stating that drivers holding FAST cards whose permits have expired should be granted an exception and not interfered with.

In standard fashion, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not responded to the request, but MTO says they have heard of no instances to date where drivers have been denied entry.

MTO has finally provided an official letter drivers can carry with them to help explain their plight to uninformed American police or DOT officials. Download it, print it, and carry it with you if your license has, or is about to, expire. We also have a link to the actual regulation granting extensions.

Whether the letters will work remains to be seen, but we strongly suggest you be courteous and helpful if confronted with an uncooperative police officer when trying to explain the situation.

There is no recent word, as of October 31, on how negotiations between Serco DES and the union are progressing, so we can't report on a potential end to this dispute.

In the meantime, if you have a medical form to submit prior to a license renewal, you can send medical reports directly to the ministry's Driver Improvement Office by fax at 416-235-3400 or 800-304-7889, or by mail to Driver Improvement Office, 2680 Keele Street, Downsview, Ontario, M3M 3E6.
Click here to read MTO's statement on the DriveTest strike. If you have any questions about the status of your license or the temporary regulation, call the Driver and Vehicle Licensing call centre at 416-235-2999 or 800-387-3445.

Below are links to two PDF files to download and print. They may or may not help at a roadside inspection, but they are the best proof of the situation you're likely to see from MTO.

Click here to download e-laws PDF version of regulation 318/09

Click here to download a PDF version of the MTO letter of explanation