The Province of British Columbia has announced that Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) is now a prerequisite for Class 1 truck driver exams as of October 18, 2021. With BC’s MELT implementation, all four Western provinces now have MELT programs for Class 1 drivers (the license code needed in those provinces to operate an airbrakes truck pulling a trailer with airbrakes, like a tractor-trailer).
Sped up by the horrific 2018 Humbolt Broncos bus and truck crash, the prairie provinces were quick to implement MELT for new truck drivers. The mountainous province of BC took longer to implement their MELT program, but the Province claims its program exceeds the minimum requirements for MELT set forth by Canada’s National Safety Code.
Some individuals and organisations in BC’s trucking industry are concerned about MELT exacerbating the current truck driver shortage. MELT programs increase the cost to obtain a Class 1 licence, and fears over increased entrance barriers for new drivers are predicted by some who see the change as something that will further reduce the drivers the industry needs to fill its trucks.
However, given BC’s challenging driving terrain and difficult winter conditions, many say the training couldn’t have come soon enough. Mountain driving requires extra skill and carriers cannot be counted on to always provide the on-the-job training necessary to create truly competent drivers.
New BC truck drivers will now be entering the industry with increased skills and knowledge. What remains to be seen is how efficiently the industry can hire these drivers – and if there will be enough of them to keep up with demand.