Ministry of Transportation rushes to address DriveTest backlog

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An Ontario Ministry of Transportation official said Tuesday that efforts are being made to address the huge backlog of more than 420,000 DriveTest passenger driving tests across the province that were canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. .


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But local MPP Lisa Gretzky (NDP – Windsor-West) believes not enough is being done to alleviate the problem, especially in the Windsor area.

Locally, that backlog includes 8,916 road tests in the Windsor-Essex region: 8,772 at the Windsor DriveTest center and 144 at the Leamington Travel Point location, according to the Department of Transportation.

Gretzky said Tuesday that his office has listened to hundreds of frustrated area residents who, in most cases, can only book exams until 2022 and, in some cases, “until 2023,” he said.

“There are some whose current license is expiring, people in their 80s who must take a road test or lose their license, and people who need a certain kind of license for their job,” Gretzky said.


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No one should be forced to travel hours to the next available testing center.

“The government needed to come up with a plan. I do not understand that this government knew that 420,000 tests were canceled, but did not plan to reopen in a way that would fix the delay. There is still no plan and the problem is getting worse ”.

As part of its efforts to address the backlog in Ontario, the government in June under Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney announced the opening of nine temporary road test centers in Burlington, East Gwillimbury, Guelph, Niagara, Mississauga, Markham, Ottawa, Oshawa and Sarnia. .

Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in a Jan. 16, 2020, file photo.
Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in a Jan. 16, 2020, file photo. Photo from Postmedia News /Windsor Star

Additional temporary driver examiners with extended hours of operation during the week were hired for passenger road tests, including on weekends, Simi Ikotun, a problem management coordinator at the transport ministry said on Tuesday.


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“At this time, Ontario does not plan to open any more temporary road test centers,” he said.

And that has especially angered Gretzky, who has written a letter to both Mulroney and Prime Minister Doug Ford requesting the opening of a temporary facility in the Windsor area.

“There has been a suggestion that this area does not have the population to support a temporary driving test center,” the local MPP said. “Sarnia has one and there are only 140,000 in all of Lambton County. That’s less than just the city of Windsor, not including the county. “

Some frustrated residents have resorted to booking exams in Sarnia, a two-hour trip on the Canadian side, while others have booked even further afield at Niagara or GTA, he said.

Gretzky raised the issue Tuesday in the Legislature during question period, requesting that a temporary facility be opened in Windsor with the appropriate staff.


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“No one should be forced to travel for hours to the next available test center,” Gretzky said.

His response came from House Leader and Legislative Affairs Minister Paul Calandra, who said the government “is working to ensure additional resources are available” for road tests throughout the province.

“Obviously more work needs to be done,” he said, noting that the test drive issue is just one of many challenges created by the pandemic facing the government.

Lisa Gretzky, MPP of Windsor West, on the grounds of The Village at St. Clair, a long-term care home under Schlegel Villages, on December 17, 2020.
Lisa Gretzky, Windsor West MPP shown on December 17, 2020. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Options the government should also consider include extending license expiration dates and prioritizing those who were booked for a test drive and canceled due to the pandemic, Gretzky said.

The ministry has taken some additional measures beyond temporary centers, Ikotun replied.


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“Our government is investing more than $ 16 million to increase road test capacity at all DriveTest centers,” he said. “Our aggressive plan to address the delay includes hiring an additional 167 new temporary driver examiners. This new round of recruitment adds to our addition of 84 temporary examiners announced in Fall 2020. “

The weekday operating hours for passenger road tests have been extended with Saturdays and Sundays available at select locations, it said.

For those looking for a practical test, Ikotun noted that new appointments for practical tests will be added throughout the week.

“We encourage customers to check regularly for new quotes as they are posted, ”he said.

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