Alberta to license private examiners to solve road test backlogs

The Alberta government says it will increase the number of road tests and licence more examiners “from outside of government” in order to solve a backlog of driver examinations in the province.

Speaking at the Alberta Motor Association in Edmonton Thursday, Transportation Minister Ric McIver said the changes will be implemented immediately to work through the backlog, which he said has some hopeful drivers waiting up to 12 weeks to take their exam.

McIver said at the problem’s peak, up to 36,000 Albertans were waiting to take a road test. A week ago, it was around 28,000 people.

“We know Albertans are frustrated with the wait times it takes to book and get a road test,” said McIver. “I’ve heard from people who can’t start their jobs because they’ve been waiting weeks and weeks and weeks to get their licence. This is unacceptable.”

Last year, the NDP government announced it would assume authority for road tests, which were previously privatized, on March 1, 2019.

But that implementation of the government-run system led to “skyrocketing” wait times for new drivers, McIver said.

He clarified that the UCP government will not do away with the government-run system, and instead will be licensing additional examiners as a temporary fix.

Those examiners will be employed in cities where the biggest shortfalls are, including Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray.

Hiring preference will be given to examiners who have previous experience, McIver said.

“These licensed driver examiners will expand the capacity of the existing publicly run model, help to reduce wait times and improve overall driver examination services in Alberta in the short term,” the province said in a news release.

The announcement was met with enthusiasm from the Alberta Motor Association, with CEO Michelle Chimko saying the organization was “hopeful that this immediately helps to increase much-needed capacity within the system, as well as offering more choice for those booking their road test.”

The transportation ministry will continue to review the government-run road test model in order to make long-term changes, the province said.