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Commercial drivers with reduced vision allowed to demonstrate ability in new Ontario testing program

The Ontario government is introducing a vision waiver program for commercial drivers who have reduced vision.

A new regulation under the Highway Traffic Act will allow for the implementation of a commercial vision waiver program which would establish an individualized assessment program for Class A, C, D and F drivers. This program will allow commercial drivers with reduced vision to demonstrate their ability to compensate for their vision loss and if successful, maintain their mobility and livelihood. The new regulation is expected to come into effect in early July, 2021.

In a ruling handed down one year ago in July, 2020, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jessica Kimmel decided that Ontario’s vision testing rules, aimed at enhancing road safety, are unfair to the monocular — those with sight in only one eye.

Kimmel’s decision came as a result of a court challenge brought by Liliana Di Cienzo, a bus driver with a perfect driving record who lost her right eye to cancer in October 2013 when she was 41 years old. As a result, Ontario revoked her Class C commercial licence under a section of the Highway Traffic Act that bars a person with one eye from holding the permit.

Di Cienzo initiated the court challenge because she believed the rules discriminate against those with physical disabilities; she argued that she should have the chance to prove she can drive buses safely. She is allowed to drive passenger vehicles.

“These vision standards are based on, and perpetuate, the stereotype that monocular drivers are not able to safely drive public transit vehicles,” Kimmel found. “They create or perpetuate a discriminatory disadvantage without allowing for individual exemption based on the actual driving capabilities and characteristics of individual monocular drivers.”

Kimmel put her unconstitutionality finding on hold for 12 months to give the province time to redraft the pertinent regulations.

Road Warrior News has contacted Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation to request the text of the new regulation and additional available information. At post time, MTO has not responded. We will update this article with new information when it is received.