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Happy Anniversary! But still no driver training program, three years after unanimous Council vote

Happily, April marks the 1st Anniversary of Road Warrior News and the 37th Anniversary of Taxi News – Happy Anniversary to us.

Less than happily, it also marks the one year anniversary of the Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed with the City of Toronto, asking how many vehicle for hire drivers have been trained under the mandatory driver training program Council unanimously directed Licensing and Standards staff to re-instate in July, 2019.

One year ago, the answer to our question was “Zero.” Zero drivers have been trained since staff received the direction in 2019.

Today, the answer is still “Zero.” Zero drivers have been trained since we published the FOI response on April 11, 2021.

While somewhat glacial progress does appear to have been made (training organizations which responded to the RFP were asked for “more information” and were given 30 days to respond) no deadline for this potentially endless information quest or start date for the training program has been published.

“What does this say about our commitment to safety?” Councillor Josh Matlow asked Licensing Committee last October.

This could go on forever; maybe it will.

Will the testing be in-class, on-line, or in-car? No one knows.

What is the “mandatory criteria,” and who sits on the “expert panel” assessing proposals? We don’t know that, either.

One year ago RWN wrote: “This information comes as a demoralizing disappointment to Cheryl Hawkes, the mother of Nicholas Cameron. Cameron was killed in an accident involving an untrained Uber driver on March 21st, 2018. Hawkes lobbied Toronto City Council for 3 years to convince elected officials that a driver training and testing program was necessary to prevent similar deaths in the future.

“City Council was unanimous in calling for driver training for rideshare drivers. There was wide public support. Studies were done. A bylaw was passed and bureaucrats charged with design and implementation,” Hawkes commented by email in April, 2021.

“Overall, I’m grateful to anyone who refuses to let this go.”

Toronto owes it to Cheryl Hawkes, the late Nicholas Cameron, and everyone who truly cares about the safety of residents not to let this go.

“I would hate to think there is any move to delay training when public safety is at risk,” Kristyn Wong-Tam told Toronto Council last October.
On March 2nd, 2022 Toronto staff wrote: 
“At this time, eight programs have been provisionally approved pending a final submission and acceptance of their learning content; three programs require more information in several criteria areas; and one program was denied for not meeting the majority of the City's criteria. Applicants who must submit more information to the City were provided with 30 days to respond to the City's request. Once information is received, the expert panel will review and recommend that the programs that have met the mandatory criteria be placed on the City’s list of approved training programs.

On April 1, 2022 staff wrote: 
“At this time, nine programs have been provisionally approved pending a final submission and acceptance of their learning content; two programs require more information in several criteria areas; and one program was denied for not meeting the majority of the City's criteria. The City has been hearing back from applicants who were asked to submit more information. The expert panel is reviewing the additional information received and will put forward their recommendations for programs that have met the mandatory criteria and can be placed on the City’s list of approved training programs.”

Toronto’s website currently notes, “Another round of applications from third-party driver training programs seeking approval as recognized providers for vehicle-for-hire drivers will be accepted in 2022. This page will be updated as more details are available.”