Alberta becomes fifth province to honor military driver's licenses for heavy trucks

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Members of the Canadian armed forces who have the military equivalent of a commercial driver’s license won’t have to reapply for a civilian license in Alberta, the fifth province to join an initiative aimed at helping veterans transition to civilian jobs.

The announcement from the Alberta Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation yesterday comes amid lobbying on behalf of Teamsters Canada.

The move allows for active duty and recently retired vets who had a valid Department of National Defense 404 military driver’s permit within the qualifying time frame to obtain the equivalent commercial license without having to take a test.

Roy Finley, executive assistant to president of Teamsters Canada, said Alberta’s decision comes after an 18-month lobbying effort on behalf of his group.

Military driving qualifications previously had been non-transferable to a commercial license, despite the fact that Finley says many serving and retired veterans have already acquired the needed driver training, qualifications and experience in the Canadian Armed Forces to drive heavy military vehicles on Canadian roads and abroad.

Finley said that despite having the Department of National Defense license, service members still had to take a written and driving test to obtain what’s known as a Class 1 license in Alberta. He said those service members would have to rent a truck and take it to the testing center, which in turn could cost anywhere from $500 to $800.

“This is something that needed to be done years ago,” he told Land Line on Wednesday. “These individuals are driving these tractor-trailer units for the Army on the roads on weekends or during the week, but their licenses weren’t recognized by the government.”

Finley said he was aware of similar efforts in the U.S. to help service members transition into civilian jobs, but that the country’s current policy “doesn’t make sense.”

“In the States, a guy can haul a tank from Fort Benning, Ga., to Dallas, but if he wanted to put a bulldozer on and haul it (commercially), he couldn’t do it,” he said.

The initiative has already been adopted in the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Finley says the initiative is part of the Helmets to Hardhats Canada program, designed to give Canadian Armed Forces veterans the opportunity to obtain jobs in the construction industry, many of which are unionized.

“In our view it’s a no-brainer, because these individuals are highly trained, and they come out of the military with a lot of experience,” he said.

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