Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Ontario has 8 inspectors to cover 550 career colleges over an area the size of Texas. In addition to about 200 Trucking schools, there are about 350 other college including hairstyling and massage. Image: Daily Hive
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8 inspectors watch Ontario’s 555 career colleges

2:30 July 7 Update: Some quotes were adjusted for accuracy

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Ontario has eight inspectors to keep tabs on 555 career colleges across the province.

Industry professionals who are watching the ongoing Ontario/Quebec “fake trucking school” court case were appalled to learn how few inspectors the province has keeping tabs on an exploding number of career colleges. The Ministry of Colleges and Universities, which regulates all career colleges including Trucking, told Road Warrior News in an email that it currently has no plans to hire additional inspectors.

“Professionally trained? Have you seen their training certificates? What Professionals trained them?” post by Mike Gowing reflects the suspicions of many professional Truck drivers who comment daily on photographs of accident scenes. Photo: Skilled Truckers Canada

Philip Fletcher, president of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) and Travis McDougall, co-founder of Truckers for Safer Highways both pointed out that in the Ontario/Quebec case, agencies other than Ministry of Colleges inspectors identified, investigated and charged individuals accused of running fake Trucking schools distributing counterfeit credentials.

“Canadian Border Services, Surete du Quebec and the OPP investigated and charged these guys,” Fletcher points out. “Did the Ministry of Colleges even know they were operating? How were they not flagged by Colleges’ inspectors?”

Fletcher says the number of Trucking schools alone has almost doubled since the new Minimum Entry Level Training (MELT) curriculum launched in 2017.

“Every week now, someone contacts me about opening a new school,” he told Road Warrior News. In a recent interview, Fletcher described how high-quality printers and photocopiers were making it possible for fraudsters to create and print “graduation certificates” for training; one of the schools was fraudulently placing a TTSAO logo on their certificates until Fletcher delivered a cease-and-desist letter to their office.

“We don’t believe that eight inspectors are nearly enough. How can eight inspectors thoroughly audit and ensure every training school across the province is following the minimum requirements laid out by MELT?” says Travis McDougall.

Truckers for Safer Highways is a grass-roots industry group of professional Truck drivers with two stated priorities, which are commercial vehicle enforcement and improved mandatory training.

“If we are to understand that Trucking schools are inspected regularly, how did they miss the issues with the schools that were falsifying documents and are now in court? It is quite concerning to Truckers for Safer Highways that Ontario’s Provincial Police (OPP) and the Surete du Quebec discovered these fraudulent operations instead of the college inspectors. Fake schools operating absolutely should have been discovered during school/college audits,” says McDougall.

“It seems to me, looking from the outside, that the inspectors must be over worked and understaffed. We find it extremely concerning that the ministry of Colleges and Universities have no intentions of increasing the staff for this important oversight role.” 

Ontario at present has168 private career colleges offering 477 mandatory entry-level truck driver training programs, states an email from Liz Tuomi, Communications Advisor and Press Secretary to Minister Jill Dunlop.

Q & A with Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges

How many training school inspectors are there in Ontario now? 

“The Ministry of Colleges and Universities employs eight full time regulatory specialists to inspect all registered private career colleges in Ontario.”

How many schools do they inspect currently? 

“As of February 28, 2023, there are 555 registered private career colleges in Ontario, with 168 private career colleges that offer 477 mandatory entry-level truck driver training programs. All private career colleges are inspected regularly.”

Is there a plan to create more positions for training school inspectors, and if so, how any more inspectors would be hired? 

“At this time, the ministry has no plans to hire additional inspectors.”