Alberta road tests will once again be given by government employees after decades of failed privatization
A quarter-century after Ralph Klein experimented with privatized driver''s exams, the service will be brought back under government operations in an effort to enhance road safety.
Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason made the announcement in early October. Currently, Alberta is the only province in the country with a privatized road test framework, with poor oversight and little regulation. But after months of consultations, the province will overhaul the system to usher in better standards and consistency in hopes of improving fairness and safety.
"Safety on Alberta roads is too important to leave to the private sector to regulate itself. Bringing road exams back as a government service will help ensure Albertans all over this province will have access to the same high quality level of professional services and pay the same price for those services," said Bonnie Gostola, AUPE Vice-President and chair of the union''s anti-privatization committee.
Direct Alberta government employees will administer all road tests under the new system, which takes effect March 1. The change will mean an additional 161 full-time equivalent front-line positions, and is an increase over the existing 153 private sector examiners administering tests under the current system. The government intends to recruit new testers from existing private sector providers, but Mason said only those who meet the province''s new guidelines and standards will be accepted.
Before 1993, all road examiners were government employees. Under the privatized system, the province received upwards of 140 complaints about driver tests each month. The new government-run system will also include a call centre to receive complaints and provide information, along with an online system to book appointments. Mason said the changes won''t be an additional expense to the province because test revenues will offset the costs.
"All over this province, Albertans will be able to count on the fact that their driver''s tests will be administered safely and professionally, and that''s something we can all be proud of," said Gostola.