The proposed Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act and supporting amendments to the Highway Traffic Act would: Increase fines for distracted driving to a range of $300 to $1,000, up from a range of $60 to $500, and assign three demerit points upon conviction. Increase fines for drivers who open their door into the path of a cyclist to a range of $300 to $1,000, up from a range of $60 to $500, and raise the demerit points from two to three. Require all drivers to maintain a distance of one metre when passing cyclists. Several U.S. states have implemented similar rules. Require motorists to yield to pedestrians at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers until they have completely crossed a road or street. Cyclists are not let off scot-free under the proposed legislation. The fine for not using required bicycle lights and other reflectors or reflective material will range from $60-$500, up from the current $20. The change also permits the use of flashing red lights on bicycles.
Ontario targets drug-impaired motorists as it revives legislation to crack down on distracted driving
Drugged drivers will face the same sanctions as drunk drivers under proposed legislation aimed at cracking down on distracted drivers in Ontario.
“This sends a clear message to the people who think, ‘I can get high and drive because I can pass a breathalyzer,’ ” Brian Patterson of the Ontario Safety League said Tuesday.
The bill from Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca is an updated version of one tabled in March but not passed before the spring election. It increases penalties for talking or texting on hand-held smart phones, with maximum fines of $1,000 and three demerit points — the toughest in Canada.
As well, the bill outlaws painting any vehicles the same chrome yellow as school buses and would require drivers to wait until pedestrians have finished traversing the street at designated school and pedestrian crossings.
Drivers who “door” cyclists would see penalties rise from the current range of $60 to $500 to between $300 and $1,000 and three demerit points instead of two. And motorists would have to stay one metre away from cyclists “where practicable.”
But the province lagged on dealing with drug-impaired drivers. Del Duca said more than 45 per cent of drivers killed in Ontario in 2011 were found to have drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their system.
“Ontario is one of only three jurisdictions in Canada right now that has no sanctions . . . we thought it was important,” Del Duca told reporters, noting 45 per cent of drivers killed in Ontario in 2011 had drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their systems.
Police officers who have reasonable grounds to suspect drug-impaired driving would be able to issue roadside drivers’ licence suspensions of three, seven, 30 and 90 days — just as they do with alcohol-impaired drivers for first and repeat offences.
“That is probably the most immediate example of what those specially trained officers will be able to do,” Del Duca said of Ontario’s 1,300 front-line police trained in recognizing drug-impaired motorists.
Currently, motorists must be taken to the police station for further evaluation if drug-impaired driving is suspected. That would change if the new legislation is passed.
Authorities could also require educational or substance abuse treatments, order ignition interlocks and seven-day vehicle impoundments.
Ontario Provincial Police said there were 78 distracted driving deaths last year compared to 57 for impaired 44 for speeding. The OPP laid 19,000 distracted-driving charges in 2013, up from 16,000 the year before.
Del Duca said his ministry is “working very closely” with the RCMP to implement roadside technology to test for drug impairment that would be a similar tool to a breathalyzer, which measures blood alcohol levels.
“Over the next number of months I am optimistic, I am confident we will have technology to provide us and our police officers with that same sense of scientific backup.”
Australia has been among the forefront of countries using such devices, which work by measuring drug levels in saliva, said Patterson of the Ontario Safety League.
“I think we’re getting to the stage where there will be a huge comfort level with this.”
The targeting of drug-impaired drivers was applauded by opposition parties, in addition to tougher penalties for distracted driving in general.
“Whether it’s distracted driving or impairment by alcohol or drugs, the government has a responsibility to make sure they are taking steps,” said Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga).
“It is troubling to know there are people like this on our roads.”
New Democrat MPP Joe Cimino (Sudbury) said drug-impaired driving “has to be looked at. It’s as serious as drunk driving.”
While Ontario’s roads consistently rank among the safest in North America, “there is still much more work the province can do and must do,” Del Duca said in announcing “much stiffer fines.”
The legislation comes as distracted driving outpaces impaired driving and speeding as the leading cause of death on the roads.
Ontario Provincial Police said there were 78 distracted driving deaths last year compared to 57 for impaired 44 for speeding.
The OPP laid 19,000 distracted-driving charges in 2013, up from 16,000 the year before.
Notification is sent out via email about the trial in advance of the hearing, a procedure that is routine in B.C, Nova Scotia and Alberta where the media are informed in advance of Crown or defence motions to exclude the public from the courtroom, seal evidence or impose a publication ban on the identity of an accused, victim or witness that is not mandatory under the Criminal Code. This is not the protcol ever used in any Ontario court.
In a B.C. court on Friday, an application will be heard to determine whether a publication ban should be placed on the identities of undercover officers involved in a robbery investigation.
A notification email about the hearing was sent out on Thursday, a procedure that is routine in B.C, Nova Scotia and Alberta where the media are informed in advance of Crown or defence motions to exclude the public from the courtroom, seal evidence or impose a publication ban on the identity of an accused, victim or witness that is not mandatory under the Criminal Code.
The intent is to ensure that the constitutional rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression are carefully considered.
But Ontario has no such notification system in place.
It has been two decades since the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Dagenais case established that the media should be given reasonable notice when a publication ban is applied for, and allowed to make submissions on whether the ban should be granted.
“I would have thought that 20 years on now from Dagenais we shouldn’t still be fighting a battle on the basic requirement of notice. But we are,” says media lawyer Iain MacKinnon.
Some publication bans are imposed automatically, like the one pertaining to the identity of an accused youth. Some must be granted if requested, like publication bans on the identity of a complainant in a sexual assault case or on evidence in a bail hearing.
But many publication bans, prohibiting reporting on the identities of the accused, of witnesses or evidence, are made at the discretion of judges.
“These kinds of discretionary publication bans are a serious intrusion on the freedom of the press and interfere with public right to know what goes on in the courts,” says media lawyer and Ryerson adjunct professor Brian Rogers, who has represented the Star.
“I would say it’s a constitutional requirement that the media has to weigh in,” said lawyer Iris Fischer, who has represented media outlets, including the Star.
Yet the notification process in Ontario is “very much ad hoc,” Fischer said. “Sometimes reporters will be sitting in a courtroom when a publication ban is sought and find out that way. On rare occasions, I have seen Crown counsel send out written notice to major media outlets.”
That doesn’t assist freelancers, bloggers and smaller media outlets, she notes.
It’s impossible to say how often applications for discretionary publication bans are heard and granted without the media being notified, but it is a concern, says media lawyer Ryder Gilliland, who has represented the Star.
“The media, and by extension the public, have an interest any time there is a curtailment of a presumed right of access to open court.”
Ontario Court House. In some cases, judges do order that the media be notified before a hearing on a publication ban occurs. But there are no formal procedures in Ontario laying out how much notice should be given, or which media outlets should be contacted.
In some cases, judges do order that the media be notified before a hearing on a publication ban occurs. But there are no formal procedures in Ontario laying out how much notice should be given, or which media outlets should be contacted.
Media were not notified of a publication ban request by the Crown in a Brampton trial where two parents were convicted last week of manslaughter in the death of their 2-year-old daughter. The broad discretionary publication ban covering the identities of the parents and the little girl was intended to protect a surviving sibling. However, there have been cases in the past where such publication bans have been narrowed to allow the identities of the accused and victim to be published while still protecting the identities of surviving family members.
“It is up to the presiding judge or justice to direct that notice be provided to other persons affected by the order, which may include the media,” said Brendan Crawley, spokesperson for the Ministry for the Attorney General, in an email. “In Ontario, in cases where a judge directs the Crown to provide notice to the media, the Crown, often with the assistance of the Ministry’s Communications Branch, will comply with the court order and contact local or provincial media outlets as required.”
In Nova Scotia, where an online notification procedure has been in place since 2001, according to John Piccolo, director of communications for the Nova Scotia judiciary, notice can range from three months to five days.
An online form filled out by the lawyer requesting the publication ban is distributed to a list of about 100 subscribers, mostly media outlets and media lawyers.
In Alberta, notice to registered media must be provided at least three days in advance, according to the instructions of the chief judge of the provincial courts.
This applies to any lawyers seeking a court order that could restrict “public access to, or the media’s ability to fully report on, court documents or proceedings.”
A 2006 report to the attorney general by a comprehensive Justice and the Media panel lauded the notification systems of the three provinces and recommended that “the Ministry of the Attorney General and the judiciary establish an electronic notification system for discretionary publication bans to provide basic information in a timely manner.”
That has not happened.
Rogers and the Canadian Association of Media Lawyers have raised the issue a number of times over the years.
He says government staff have told him the Ontario system is far more complex and larger than in Nova Scotia, Alberta or B.C.
But Rogers wonders whether, like in B.C. where the notification system only covers Vancouver and New Westminster courts, a pilot project couldn’t be implemented for at least one region.
“It only makes sense,” he says. “The key problem is that publication bans are sometimes looked at as pesky issues that get in the way of getting on with the trial. . . The reality is that the media can’t be there all the time. But if (the courts) worry they could be, they might be a little more serious.”
When it comes to delivering mail or parcels quickly and at a lower price then all courier companies, Canada Post is by far the best buy. In December 2013, Canada Post, with the full support of the Harper Conservatives, announced that door-to-door delivery to millions of Canadians would be permanently eliminated. The postal union “CUPW-STTP” is challenging that decision in the courts on behalf of all Canadians.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done his best to place Crown Corporations in an unfavourable light to the Canadian public.
Community Mailbox brought to you by Canada Post. The Federal government eliminated Saturday mail delivery on February 1, 1969. Now Canada Post, accompanied by the Harper Conservatives, decided on December 11, 2013 to eliminate door-to-door delivery for all Canadians. Harper’s conservatives voted on January 28, 2014 to stop mail delivery for all Canadians. In order to restore this public service, the Postal Union is challenging this decision by Canada Post and supported by Harper’s conservatives in the courts.
Royal Mail Canada (which was later and currently branded as Canada Post Corporation) began Canadian home delivery in 1693. Now Stephen Harper, through the man he appointed as Canada Post’s CEO/President, Deepak Chopra, wants to eliminate door-to-door mail delivery for all Canadians. At the same time, after damaging Canada Post’s reputation, he is doing his best to provide the groundwork and environment to close post offices, to deregulate and to privatize.
The strategy isn’t new. Ensure that a Corporation receives bad press, hint that they are in trouble and that there is a crisis (when none exists) and convince the public that there is an absolute need for an immediate and urgent overhaul and followed by privatization, in which their Conservative friends who are looking for a firesale, can quickly and inexpensively buy up the spoils of the Crown Corporation they have purposely neglected into the ground.
After the Union has mounted the court challenge, the challenge has been filed, an injunction could stop service reductions until the court rules. Paul Cavalluzzo, a distinguished Constitutional and Labour lawyer, will argue the following in front of the Courts: 1. The elimination of mail delivery violates Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees equality rights for groups like disabled citizens. 2. The decision violates the federal Human Rights Act because of its effects on employees and vulnerable citizens without prior consultation. 3. Canada Post did not have the authority to declare it will no longer perform a public service that’s defined as part of the statutory monopoly it enjoys. Only the Parliament of Canada can take this decision. 4. Canada has contravened its international law obligations, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires all states to provide accessible public services, and the Universal Postal Union obligations, which require all states to provide affordable and accessible service.
In the January 28, 2014 debate in the House of Commons, in which federal M.P. Olivia Chow moved a motion to rescind the Canada Post Corporation’s decision to end door-to-door delivery for Canadians, Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.) said the following, as reflected in the Edited Hansard 036:
“….The government’s ultimate intention is to drive Canada Post into privatization.”
“They (the Federal Conservative party) take cherished Canadian public services like the postal service, they take the corporation involved in delivering that cherished public service, and they begin to run it down. They begin to talk negatively about it. They begin to talk about its being too expensive. They talk about it as being, in the case of Atomic Energy, a sinkhole costing all kinds of money. They run down the asset and then they turn around say, “We really would like to see this asset privatized”. It is part of the conditioning that the Conservatives use as a tactic with respect to Canadian citizens, instead of spending better energy and good energy in trying to improve a plan on a go-forward basis to keep postal services for Canadians who deserve them.”
David McGuinty can see through Stephen Harper’s ultimate agenda and how the Conservative party convinces the public that ultimately they have no choice but to dismantle and then privatize public services.
Distinguished Constitutional and Labour lawyer, Paul Cavalluzzo, was appointed to the Order of Canada on September 12, 2014 (this honour was bestowed upon him recognizing his 40+ years of dedication to the pursuit of social justice as both a Constitutional and Labour lawyer) will be representing the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in this court challenge for all Canadians. After the Union has mounted the court challenge, the challenge has been filed, an injunction could stop service reductions until the court rules.
Following the announcement by Canada Post on December 11, 2013 that door-to-door delivery would be eliminated, Conservative M.P. Lisa Raitt (Minister responsible for Canada Post) wholeheartedly agreed with the decision and supported it.
Canadians are not happy about losing their home delivery, despite Canada Post’s President and CEO Deepak Chopra informing the public that seniors enjoy the exercise when they are forced to walk to a community mailbox to pick up thier mail, versus receiving the mail at their homes. This decision severely impacts seniors, the disabled and many other Canadians.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers have decided to launch a court challenge to Canada Post’s decision to eliminate door-to-door delivery. The Union has retained distinguished lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo, with over 40 years of experience, from the law firm Cavalluzzo Shilton Mcintyre Cornish LLP Barristers & Solicitors located in Toronto.
Mr. Paul J.J. Cavalluzzo was appointed to the Order of Canada on September 12, 2014. This honour recognized his dedication to the pursuit of social justice as both a constitutional and labour lawyer.
The argument in front of the courts will be grounded in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter“).
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers issued the following news release today:
“OTTAWA – Representatives from seniors’ groups and organizations for people with disabilities joined the Canadian Union of Postal Workers today to launch a major legal challenge to the attempt to end home mail delivery.
“In Canada, people should count, not just the bottom line,” said Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
The union announced today that a challenge will be filed in the Federal Court of Canada under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, asking the court to put a stop to Canada Post’s termination of home mail delivery. The challenge will also argue that this decision is beyond Canada Post’s authority and should be made by the Parliament of Canada which created Canada Post and defined its mandate.
“On December 11th, 2013, Canada Post announced that it would make Canada the only G8 country without home mail delivery. CEO Deepak Chopra’s bizarre statement that seniors would welcome the exercise of walking to collect their mail, as well as Canada Post’s subsequent requirement of a medical note to retain home delivery without any consultation with doctors has caused additional consternation.
This is one of the most important postal decisions which has ever been made since Canada Post was created in 1981,” said Paul Cavalluzzo, one of Canada’s foremost constitutional lawyers, who will be arguing the case on behalf of disabled and older Canadians.
While the Conservatives have attempted to distance themselves from Canada Post’s decision, they are clearly backing the end of home delivery. Those who are filing the challenge say the Conservatives should be held accountable for ramming this through without proper consultation or debate.”
Canada Post Corporation’s President and CEO, Deepak Chopra. He announced on December 11, 2013 that every Canadian would lose their door-to-door delivery over the next five (5) years. Since that announcement, supported by the Harper Conservatives in Ottawa, Canada Post has been busy eliminating door-to-door delivery across Canada. Photo by Chris Young/Canadian Press.
Children can sue their parent(s) or guardians under section 31 of the Family Law Act for support. In addition, some of those rights include the ability for 16 or 17 year olds who don’t live at home to go to school without the help of a guardian; or the right of siblings to ask for a court order to see brothers and sisters who live apart. Parents must be aware of this.
The trendy-looking 20-year-old on stage is telling the story of how his uncle started to beat him when he came out as a teenager, hitting him while he slept in bed.
At the age of 17, he moved out, leaving his aunt and uncle, the only parents he had known since coming to Canada from Vietnam.
The young man, who is using only his first name — Bon — sued them for support and won.
Suing your own parents is a little-known aspect of family law and many of the lawyers sitting in the audience at the Ontario Bar Association workshop in downtown Toronto are hearing about it for the first time.
The association is holding the professional development session to launch its youth and child practice section, which will educate lawyers about children’s rights and eliminate the siloed nature in which many young people receive legal services.
“An adult can go and talk to an employment lawyer if they lost their job. Or their doctor if they’re feeling they have some mental health issues,” said Lucy McSweeney, the Children’s Lawyer for Ontario and the section’s founding chair.
But a young person is “showing up with their health issues and their job loss to ask you about being thrown out of school. To just say that’s just an education law issue, as distinct from there’s a mental health access issue, is unhelpful,” said McSweeney. “What we realized is that every area of law has an impact on youth.”
The specialized Toronto legal clinic gets calls every week from kids who have left home and want to know their rights.
“We work in these areas and people question children and youth rights,” said Mary Birdsell, the clinic’s executive director.
The Parental Responsibility Act was enacted in May 2000. This Act makes it possible for parents/guardians to be sued for damage or losses caused by their minor children: “where a child takes, damages or destroys property, an owner or a person entitled to possession of the property may bring an action in Small Claims Court against a parent of the child to recover damages.” Under section 2 of the Act, the parent/guardian has a reverse onus to prove they are not responsible for the actions of their child and that they provided proper parental supervision and that the activity of their child that caused the loss or damage was not intentional. The maximum claim is currently $10,000.00.
Some of those rights include the ability for 16 or 17 year olds who don’t live at home to go to school without the help of a guardian; or the right of siblings to ask for a court order to see brothers and sisters who live apart.
“We ask, ‘Do you know you can do these kinds of cases?’ And they say ‘no,’ ” said Birdsell. “It’s our uphill battle in terms of getting people to think about young people.”
The small shop of five or six lawyers takes calls from across the province from kids in crisis and can’t meet the demands of many cases, including ones like Bon’s.
“We’re hoping other lawyers who are practising family law, and are interested in youth rights issues, might become interested in taking these cases as well,” said Andrea Luey, who brought Bon to the workshop
The suits are allowed under Section 31 of the Family Law Act, the “same part of the law that provides for spouses to get child support. It comes from the general obligation to support your children,” said Birdsell. “Normally, we think of that as an issue that is between parents.”
Parents are typically obligated to support a child who does not leave home voluntarily until they are 18; longer if the person is in school or if there are extenuating circumstances, like homelessness, that make it difficult for a youth to enrol.
Luey said the cases are complex and not every client who expresses an interest in knowing their rights wants to proceed.
“Sometimes, even though in their view parents have wronged them in many ways, and their parents may have money, they don’t want to do that to their parents. It’s too uncomfortable. It’s too upsetting,” she said.
“Other times, the young person feels they’ve been so wronged that they want nothing to do with their parents,” said Luey. “They don’t want their parents’ money. They just want to move on.”
The work involved, the meetings and paperwork, can be taxing for an adult, let alone a young person with little outside support.
But when the cases do progress — to demand letters, or hearings and trials — Luey has arrived at settlements in every one.
Generally speaking, the lawsuits aren’t a solution to homelessness, she said, “but for certain kids it can make a difference.”
Youth leave home for a variety of reasons.
Sixty to 70 per cent of homeless youth have experienced family violence, but three-quarters of them experience victimization and violence on the streets within a year.
More than a quarter to a third of homeless youth have severe mental health problems; 23 per cent identify on the GLBTQ spectrum; and two-thirds will not finish Grade 12.
But in Ontario, welfare for kids who become homeless at age 16 and 17 is only available if they are enrolled full-time in school, can prove their parents are not willing to support them and have a responsible adult in their life.
For Bon, the lawsuit was an incredibly difficult decision but the monetary support he received changed his life.
“They tried to make me very emotionally unstable,” alleged Bon of his aunt and uncle, who he considered his parents. “There was physical abuse. My dad would hit me or throw things at me. There were times I had to call the cops on him because he would hit me when I was asleep.”
The said he youth left home and found an apartment, but was nearly evicted because the small business he worked for was late with his paycheque and there was nothing he could do.
“No one would listen to me because I had no authority.”
A youth councillor he consulted told him there was a way for him to sue his aunt and uncle, so Bon looked for answers on the Internet. The teenager laughingly said he called Legal Aid to see if he could get funding, but was told “no.”
Bon persevered and finally found the Justice for Children and Youth clinic, but he said the case was emotionally draining.
After not hearing from his aunt and uncle for two years, he says his aunt called him at 5 one morning, asking him if the lawsuit was a mistake and demanding that he stop.
“But at the end of the day,” Bon told the lawyers in the audience, “I’m not thinking about my mom. I’m thinking about myself because it’s her fault that I had to leave home.
“I’m not going to be one of those people that doesn’t make a decision,” he said. “So I had to ignore her and change my phone number so she can’t contact me any further.”
The $750 a month Bon says his aunt and uncle eventually agreed to pay allowed him to quit his night job and finish school. He still works 20 hours a week.
He will finish his last high school credit this fall and is enrolled in nursing at George Brown College.
“It was a difficult decision for him but he had hopes and dreams and knew that he was capable of making something of his life,” said Luey. “And he needed a little bit of extra money to get himself on track.”
Bon said that if the lawyers present have trouble convincing teenagers to sue, they should tell them his story.
“Tell them I did this. Most of the time I try to be a very nice person. But sometimes you have to do the right thing on your own. Because nobody else will ever do it for you.”
A fully loaded tractor-trailer can haul upwards of 36,000 kilograms of freight, including dangerous chemical cargo, and travel at speeds of more than 100 kilometres per hour. Tractor-trailers are the largest trucks on the road, and when they crash, the results can be disastrous.
Cut-rate truck schools in Ontario are producing poorly trained drivers who put the motoring public at risk, a Star investigation reveals.
The Star found two dozen unregulated schools in the GTA that offer to teach students just enough to earn their AZ licence — required to operate a tractor-trailer with air brakes — and to clear new drivers with scant hours behind the wheel to operate a vehicle about 40 times heavier than a car.
These unregulated schools, called “licensing mills” by experienced truckers, thrive by exploiting a provincial loophole. They evade government scrutiny by charging $999 or less, just under the $1,000 threshold the province has set for regulated courses.
Some of these schools even breach the $1,000 cap, yet freely do business under lax oversight by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the Star’s investigation found.
“Once you have that licence, you could be driving a double-tanker filled with gasoline down the 401 tomorrow,” said David Bradley, president and CEO of the Ontario Trucking Association, which is pushing the province to introduce mandatory, industry-designed instruction for entry-level drivers.
“(Some drivers) really don’t know what they’re doing. They’re a menace to themselves and everybody else.”
A fully loaded tractor-trailer can haul upwards of 36,000 kilograms of freight, including dangerous chemical cargo, and travel at speeds of more than 100 kilometres per hour.
Provincial statistics for 2011 (the most recent complete government numbers) show that of the 101 fatalities resulting from large-truck crashes, tractor-trailers were involved in 55 deaths.
Tractor-trailers are the largest trucks on the road, and when they crash, the results can be disastrous.
In June, a 29-year-old Scarborough man was killed when his car was hit by a transport truck on Hwy. 401 near Thickson Rd. In August, a tractor-trailer burst into flames after it collided with three vehicles, including a Ministry of Transportation truck, on Hwy. 401 at Morningside. The driver escaped the flames.
Both incidents, just two of nearly 4,000 collisions that happen each year involving tractor-trailers, showered debris across the highway and caused hours of traffic chaos. The crashes remain under police investigation, and the Star has not been able to determine the type of training the drivers had.
Provincial statistics for 2011 (the most recent complete government numbers) show that of the 101 fatalities resulting from large-truck crashes, tractor-trailers were involved in 55 deaths.
In a separate report, the Ontario Provincial Police say they investigated 99 fatalities related to truck collisions in 2012 — a five-year high for the force. The statistics do not say how many involved larger tractor-trailers.
The case of Akmal Hayat shows how tractor-trailer drivers from cut-rate schools can end up in trouble.
In January, the 32-year-old Milton man was driving a tractor-trailer near Nipigon, Ont., and trying to pass a snowplow on Hwy. 11, a two-lane expressway at that point. Art Ginter of Winnipeg, also driving a big rig, was coming around the snowy bend from the other direction, and Hayat’s rig nearly collided head-on with the Winnipeg man.
Ginter was forced to veer into the guardrail to avoid Hayat’s truck. A dashboard camera mounted in Ginter’s truck captured the incident. The OPP used the video to track down and charge Hayat, who did not remain on the scene.
Hayat later pleaded guilty to careless driving and was fined $2,500. He is still driving trucks.
Hayat would not speak to the Star in person, claiming on two separate occasions that he was working in Texas and Arkansas. He told the Star in a text message that he and his family are very disturbed about what happened in Nipigon.
“I don’t want to discuss on (sic) this matter anymore,” he wrote. “I am suffering enough.”
Hayat trained at Model Truck and Forklift school in 2007, his brother, Ajmal Hayat, told the Star. The school was never accredited by the province.
The Star discovered that Model Truck and Forklift closed around 2009, then reopened in 2012. The school’s owner, Syed Shah, was operating from a mailing address inside a Malton cheque-cashing store on Goreway Dr., but Shah has since left Canada and returned to Pakistan.
Ginter, a professional truck driver for more than two decades, would not comment for this story because the incident is still “very raw for him,” his wife, Cheryl, said.
Hayat’s brother, Ajmal, is a tractor-trailer driver with his own company who defended his brother as a safe driver.
Reza Moridi, Ontario’s training, colleges and universities minister, would not agree to be interviewed by the Star for this story. Instead, his ministry issued a statement saying students should verify that their school is accredited by the province. Approved truck training courses must be at least 200 hours in duration, including 50 hours of on-road instruction. The Star found that type of intensive training typically costs more than $6,000 for a full course offered over several weeks.
While Moridi’s ministry oversees commercial truck training in Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation controls all vehicle licensing.
The Training, Colleges and Universities Ministry also stated it “has actively pursued enforcement against illegal private career colleges, and publishes the names of illegal operators on its website.”
Since 2010, the ministry says it has “taken enforcement action” against 40 such businesses. The Star checked and found four of these schools were still in operation, despite facing ministry sanctions in the past.
The Star also discovered 24 unregulated schools offering tractor-trailer training around the GTA, by searching websites such as Kijiji and Craigslist, as well as observing business names and phone numbers on brightly coloured signs on the sides of trucks at DriveTest centres for road tests. Many also advertise that they will help students find jobs as truck drivers upon successful completion of the road test — a ministry violation for unregulated schools.
A Star reporter posing as a prospective student hoping to get a job as a truck driver visited Great Truck & Forklift Driving School in Scarborough. The school’s website says the course costs $999.99. In person, the reporter posing as a student was told the full course, including in-truck lessons and air brake training, would tally $1,224.
The school, which has another office in Etobicoke, also offered to set up a medical exam for the reporter for $40. Most doctors typically charge $100 or more for such an exam.
The clerk said the school could help the reporter find a job upon completion of the course.
When the reporter identified himself and explained the story he was writing, the clerk then said the $1,224 course actually comprises two separate courses: a $999.99 course for in-truck lessons, and a $225 air brake course. The Star found that schools often split up the payments to keep below the $1,000 ministry threshold.
The clerk refused to provide her name and claimed to know nothing about the school, including who owned it. The Star visited the school’s Etobicoke location and was told by another clerk that no course was priced over $1,000.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities told the Star the $1,000 threshold was set, in part, to save money on government oversight and “to provide a balance between several competing interests, including the training sector’s need to remain flexible” and “the need for students to receive adequate protection.”
About 1,100 new tractor-trailer licences have been granted in Ontario in each of the past three years, according to provincial statistics. There are about 190,000 registered tractor-trailers in Ontario, the statistics also show.
It’s relatively simple to get a licence to operate a commercial truck, including a tractor-trailer, under provincial rules. Passing the “A” licence written test, the air brake “Z” course, a vision test, a medical exam and possessing a G (passenger car) licence are among the requirements before a DriveTest tractor-trailer exam can be taken.
In fact, the Star discovered there is no requirement for any tractor-trailer driving instruction. Candidates are not asked where they were trained — or if they were trained — before booking a provincial DriveTest exam.
In stark contrast, an Ontario forklift operator must have formal training to meet Ministry of Labour safety standards.
Most people seeking to become commercial truck drivers take some form of training, industry insiders told the Star. That’s where confusion begins for prospective students, who see great disparity in pricing and length of courses.
Schools offering “vocational” truck driver training — instruction that leads to potential employment — must be registered with the province. These vocational schools, known as private career colleges, are regulated and inspected by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. They are mandated to deliver ministry-approved programming.
Tractor trailers spend most of their time on Provincial highways. Alot of these fly-by-night training schools don’t even test their students or allow their students on highways.
Some community colleges, such as Humber College’s Transportation Training Centre, also offer comprehensive, ministry-approved programs (e.g., with a minimum of 200 hours of instruction). Community college programs are, in part, developed through consultation with the trucking industry to meet criteria for entry-level employees, said a Humber spokesperson.
The same provincial rules that govern private career colleges state that courses charging less than $1,000 aren’t considered “vocational” programs and can exist without regulation.
The result? Cut-rate schools flourish.
Unregulated schools offer a cheaper, faster way into the trucking business. AZ training at a cut-rate business can be completed over a few days and with as little as 10 hours in the truck.
Yvette Lagrois, president of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario, says it is difficult to keep unregulated schools from cropping up, partly because of the fact that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has just eight inspectors responsible for 600 private career programs for various vocations.
“Think of whack-a-mole at the CNE. What happens? You whack a mole and another one comes up. Anybody with a cellphone and a truck can put out an advertisement on the web,” Lagrois said. “But they may be here today, gone tomorrow.”
Kim Richardson has operated his provincially approved truck training school in Caledonia for 25 years. He said trucking firms that turn away drivers produced by cut-rate schools send the more promising candidates — at their own cost — to his school, KRTS Transportation Specialists, for skills upgrading.
“We make a partial living by people who get screwed by these poor schools and then they can’t get work,” said Richardson, a co-founder of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario.
“They do put the public at risk,” Richardson said of drivers he’s worked with who, despite having earned an AZ licence, are inept on the road.
Richardson’s son, Matt, who works in the family business, said part of the problem is that many cut-rate schools simply teach drivers to pass the provincial road test (which is overseen by the Ministry of Transportation).
“These schools know what a DriveTest centre is looking for because they’ve vetted them, they’ve had students be on the (test) route before. So they train specifically to pass the test,” Matt Richardson said. “They do their two left turns and their two right turns and exactly what they need on the pre-trip inspection and the air brake.
“So great, we now have a licensed driver who has passed a road test because that’s all they were trained for, but they can’t do anything else.”
The Ontario Trucking Association’s Bradley says that, overall, commercial truck drivers “as a class” have a sound safety record.
Collision data collected by the province show truck drivers are at fault only about 30 per cent of the time in fatal crashes. However, Bradley said improved defensive-driving training from mandatory, regulated schooling could potentially reduce truck crashes and the damage done by them.
“We’re held to a higher standard, and so we should be, because we share our workplace with the public,” Bradley said. “So when things do go wrong (in a crash), it can often be spectacular, and we want to be continuously improving.”
Lisa Arseneau, vice-president of transportation at the Pearson Dunn Insurance office in Mississauga, said there is a driver shortage in Canada and properly trained entry-level drivers are needed.
Licensing Mills are avoiding scrutiny from the Provincial government by charging fees of less than $1,000.00. If the course costs $1,000 or more, oversight by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities takes place.By skirting these rules, these licensing mills avoid scrutiny by Provincial regulators.
Arseneau said insurance studies show Canada requires an additional 375,000 new drivers over the next decade as the current generation — the average trucker age is 57 — begins to retire. She said the “fly-by-night” schools are not producing drivers who qualify for insurance from reputable companies, and therefore their graduates cannot get jobs.
“You can take any course you want, but it’s worthless unless you can get insured,” said Arseneau, a broker.
So who hires the cut-rate graduates who manage to acquire insurance coverage? Companies that pay low wages, cut corners on vehicle safety repairs and face financial pressure to make deliveries on time in a highly competitive business, insiders told the Star.
Trucking experts interviewed by the Star said a tractor-trailer driver working for a reputable company can earn upwards of $70,000 — depending, generally, on their willingness to spend a lot of time on the road.
Bradley said the Ontario Trucking Association membership he represents — about 1,000 trucking firms, mostly in Ontario but some from the United States — wants the provincial government to establish truck driving as a skilled trade, like an electrician or plumber. That would entail uniform, regulated schooling that, with a diploma, would help to return pride and quality to the job, he said.
Currently, truck driving is perceived by the general public as a “job of last resort” because entry standards are so low, said Bradley.
Bradley added that a mandatory schooling standard created by the trucking industry and enforced by the province would make the cut-rate schools do one of two things:
“They’ll either have to up their game to meet the standard that the industry has set, or they’ll go out of business. And frankly, either one works for me.”