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Military Personnel, Vets Can Transfer Driving Skills While Easing Labour Shortage

Highway truck driving on highway in a sepia tone.

An anticipated shortage of qualified Canadian truck drivers will get a boost thanks to the military.

The new initiative in British Columbia will allow current military personnel and veterans to transfer their truck driving credentials into commercial licenses. While it will help address what the Conference Board of Canada anticipates will be a shortage of 25,000 to 30,000 qualified drivers by 2020, it will also help veterans transition into civilian life with a greater degree of economic stability.

No additional testing will be required of these military-trained drivers when they become commercial drivers. The program went into effect on Jan. 25.

Coralee Oakes, the Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, said the program will ensure that veterans are behind the wheel of trucks at the same time they return to civilian life.

Oakes said the initiative will “cut unnecessary re-qualification processes” for active personnel and vets who already are fully trained in commercial driving.

Here’s how it works:

  • Retired and active personnel with a Department of National Defense driver’s license will be allowed to to obtain an equivalent British Columbia commercial license (Class 1, 2, 3 or 4).
  • Prior DND credentials will enable applicants to drive everything from semi-tractors to buses and limousines.
  • 5- or 7-passenger vehicle licenses will also be issued in British Columbia to drivers who have equivalent credentials.

Removing the licensing hurdles for trained military drivers is part of an initiative spearheaded by the non-profit group Helmets to Hardhats Canada. The group is focused on providing Canadian Armed Forces members with training and careers in the country’s unionized building, construction and maintenance industries.

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said the program will allow Canadian Forces members to “continue to use their well-earned driving skills” while helping to directly address labor shortages in the commercial trucking industry.