MONTREAL, Que. — After nine years and two pilot projects, Quebec’s Programme enrichi d’accès à la conduite de véhicules lourds (PEACVL) has reached an important milestone, while a proposed regulation aimed at facilitating access to driving heavy vehicles for young people was pre-published in the Québec Gazette.
The PEACVL is one of the measures to help carriers face driver shortage. Its purpose is to allow young graduates of one of the two Quebec public schools (in Charlesbourg and Saint-Jérôme) to drive heavy vehicles from the age of 18.
In 2011, the Quebec Trucking Association (ACQ) began to intensify its requests to the government to develop a project allowing young people to obtain the right to drive a heavy vehicle faster.
Despite some reluctance, an initial pilot project, lasting three years, was set up involving 40 young aspiring drivers, 20 at the Centre de formation en transport de Charlesbourg (CFT) and 20 at the Centre de formation en transport routier de Saint-Jérôme (CFTR).
In 2016, a ministerial decree made it possible to renew the program, but this time for a period of four years and with a maximum of 300 young people from across Quebec, allowing government authorities to obtain the large-scale sampling they wanted.
“The fact that the pilot project becomes a regulation is a major step in the sustainability of the program.”
Normand Bourque, ACQ
The ACQ is thrilled with the proposed regulation.
“Pre-publication is a good indicator that we are moving towards legislation. We were confident of the results, but our goal was undoubtedly the sustainability of this program,” said Marc Cadieux, CEO of the ACQ.
“Since the pilot project ended in April 2020, it was difficult to create synergy with young people interested in the PEACVL,” added Normand Bourque, coordinator, technical and operational files. “We couldn’t go and get young people interested in the program at the start of high school, because we didn’t know if it would still exist. The fact that the pilot project becomes a regulation is a major step in the sustainability of the program.”
The second pilot project was so successful that some carriers were placed on a waiting list.
“The carriers have understood the value of the program, they have gained experience in terms of supervising young people and insurers have been reassured by the success of the first pilot project,” said Bourque.
It is difficult to compile retention figures because young truckers frequently change jobs, but some statistics show that they stay in the industry.
Eric Gignac, CEO of the Guilbault Group, is a strong supporter of the program and one of the carriers that has welcomed young applicants.
“This is one of the best news the industry has had in a long time,” he said. “The objectives have been achieved and the results are very positive. We always have to reinvent ourselves and improve, and the government is open to that kind of thing. It’s win-win.”
With the exception of one, all the young people who were part of the PEACVL at Guilbault remained, including one who now occupies a position of chief dispatcher.
“There are smart people coming out of this program. Serious and talented young people. All carriers should participate,” said Gignac.
Once the pre-publication stage is completed, the regulation will be subject to a 45-day period during which persons wishing to submit comments can do so. Then, the proposed regulation will be adjusted as necessary based on the comments received, and finally go to the final publication. The regulation is expected to come into effect in the fall.
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