Reviews identify driving schools that fall short of ministry standards: TTSAO

Ontario’s largest association of truck training schools has formally identified three schools that fail to meet standards set for private career colleges in the province. But the ministry that oversees such work has yet to accept an offer to share results of the related reviews.

(File photo: John G. Smith)

The findings emerged through a pre-qualification and re-qualification process the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) established in 2019, in a bid to block current and future members from using the association’s brand as a “rubber stamp” of approval, says Lisa Arseneau, chairwoman of the association’s insurance group.

While the number of site visits were limited during Covid-19, related subject matter experts have now completed 16 site visits, and three locations failed, she says. The Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities has so far requested results from just one of the reviews, focusing on a school that was already facing an audit. The ministry’s audits are triggered by specific complaints.

“We don’t believe there is much enforcement,” Arseneau says. The association taps into subject matter experts already used by insurers, and bases its reviews on standards established by the ministry itself, she adds. Schools pay £450 to cover the expenses associated with those who conduct the reviews.

“We took this right out of the insurance industry playbook,” Arseneau says of the approach. During the reviews, subject matter experts pull sample student files to confirm required documents are in place, look for a checklist of protocols and standard operating procedures, and confirm the schools provide at least 103.5 hours of training as required under Ontario’s mandatory entry-level training regime for commercial drivers. When asked why the association is offering to share all the results, Arseneau responded: “A little bit of frustration and a little bit of altruism.

“The frustrations for us is the guys who failed had MCU certificates,” she says. “We know they aren’t operating legally.”