By Samantha Johnson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As of April 23, the Mandatory Entry Level Training requirement for school bus drivers will be removed in Alberta, the only province in Canada to have mandated MELT for Class 2 drivers.
Since March of 2019, MELT has been a licensing requirement for Class 1 and Class 2 drivers.
A school bus driver shortage has been prevalent across the province and the Alberta School Boards Association has been advocating for adjustments to MELT requirements. MELT has created challenges for school boards and bus companies in hiring and retaining school bus drivers, and its removal is aimed at making it easier to hire and train new drivers.
An S-endorsement will still be required on a driver’s licence for all school bus drivers. The endorsement can be obtained after completing the school bus driver improvement program, which involves classroom training, practical training and knowledge assessments.
The class of licence required is dependent on the seating capacity of the school bus. At the end of April, a voluntary on-the-job training program for Class 2 and 4 school bus drivers will become available.
David Shaw, president of the Student Transportation Association of Alberta, stated in the government of Alberta press release, “The Student Transportation Association of Alberta has been asking for changes since the implementation of the MELT program in 2019. This change will allow school divisions and contractors to provide individualized training based on competency instead of a time-based format that did not take existing skills into consideration. I applaud the Alberta government for listening to our concerns, and we as an organization are excited to be able to work with all new drivers in providing a targeted training based on their skill level.”
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