With the strike of nearly 600 unionized “DriveTest” employees now into its eighth week, local residents are really feeling the impact.
The strike means those needing to complete a written test or a driving test to obtain a new class of licence (i.e., G1, G, D, or A), needing to transfer their licence here from another province, or needing to be re-tested to keep their licences must wait until the strike is over.
“DriveTest” estimates 4,000 people per day haven’t been able to get their driver’s licences since the strike began Aug. 21.
Those who already have their licence, and need it renewed, can continue driving—but must visit a “DriveTest” office once service resumes.
Many of those affected are teenagers unable to obtain their licence for the first time.
“It’s hard to listen to my students be so upset,” said Aurora Doerksen of “DriveWise,” who has been a driving instructor here for about eight years.
“One student said to me it sucks pretty bad when we take [the ‘DriveWise’] course expecting to get our G2 at eight months, then the strike makes it nine or 10.”
The “DriveWise” course allows its students to try their road test after eights months of holding their permit, as opposed to waiting a full year.
“They are very upset, all of them,” she conceded. “Everyone I talk to.
“I have students who literally got their road test cancelled that morning and could have been driving already.”
Doerksen indicated at least 15 of her students could have had their G2 licence in the months of August or September.
Two of those are Fort High students Chris Legg and Christine Cridland.
“The strike is affecting me, and even more my parents,” Legg remarked. “I am very involved in school sports and have practices every day.
“Since I don’t have my licence yet, I need my parents to drive me around all the time.
“They got me a car, but it just sits in the driveway because I can’t drive it yet,” he lamented.
“I am ready to go for my test, but not able to because of the strike.”
Cridland also has been relying on her parents for rides.
“I really need to get my licence,” she stressed. “I have a cabin that I live at most of the time that is about 45 minutes out of town.
“Every time I work, my mom or dad has to drive me in and it is out of the way to do it,” she noted. “They are very busy people and are out of town a lot, too.
“Because I cannot take my test, I can’t get my licence, so it is very hard when they are gone to find rides to skating or work,” Cridland continued.
“This has affected a lot of other people, too, and I think that this should end.”
Doerksen noted some people also look forward to upgrading their licence class to help lower insurance rates.
“When you get your G2, your insurance goes down because you’ve got more experience already,” she explained. “Not by much, but I mean it would go down.
“Kids going for their ‘G’ who have had their licence a year and eight months or two years, they can’t go, either.
“Sometimes they are away at school and they can’t get their insurance lowered and there parents are paying still. And they still are driving under restricted licenses,” she remarked.
Many people also need to obtain or upgrade their licences for work purposes—and haven’t been able to do so because of the strike.
“Everyone is effected,” Doerksen stressed. “If I wanted to hire someone right now, I couldn’t because my instructor wouldn’t be able to take their instructing driving test.”
She noted many people have licences that have expired, and while the Ministry of Transportation is allowing these people to drive on expired licences for now, they will have to renew them once service resumes.
“Just think of the flood that will happen when they start back up again,” she declared.
However, despite the strike, Doerksen still will be holding the next “DriveWise” course here next month.
“It will have to be kids who already have their permits but couldn’t run with the [previous] course for whatever reason,” she explained.
She thinks the class will fill up fairly well, but perhaps not as good as usual since many students will not have been able to get their learner’s permits.