Monday, July 15, 2024

Supplementary Staff report advises against new driver training elements, accepting previous training, mandating in-car tests

In advance of the December 15/16 Toronto City Council meeting, Licensing and Standards staff submitted a Supplementary Staff report on December 13. The report recommends, among other things, that there be no change to the driver training program for which they have already issued and closed a Request for Proposals; training not be restricted to that provided by public institutions; that drivers trained previous to 2016 not be exempted from the new training; that the City not dictate whether training should be online, in-class, in-car or a combination of methods; and that modules on sexual harassment and discrimination be mandatory, but not an in-car component.

Changing the driver training programs

“Staff do not recommend changes to the new driver training program at this time. Rather, staff recommend that the training program enacted by Council on January 1, 2020 be implemented prior to further changes,” the report reads.

“If changes are adopted by Council, staff will cancel the current call, and subsequently launch a third call, as the applicant programs would no longer meet Council-adopted criteria. This will cause further delays to implementation and extend the current pause on the issuance of new licences.

“If Council changes the training criteria, and a new call must be issued, it is likely that drivers will not be trained until 2023. Staff do not support any changes to the training criteria.”

Who should provide training?

“Staff do not recommend restricting training through existing, accredited public institutions. The training program was developed to create flexibility in the delivery of training, and to enable the industry to participate in the training of their own members.

“This is based on best practices observed in other jurisdictions, whereby third-parties or industry members deliver an approved program based on City mandated components. Changing the requirements of this program would likely require amendments to the Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw to restrict eligibility requirements.”

On-line, in-class, in-car, or some combination of training?

“In addition,” the report states, “staff do not recommend mandating how vehicle-for-hire training is delivered (that is, in-class, online, etc.), including in-car examinations. In the current Council-adopted training program, the mode of delivery is not prescribed and may be determined by the City-approved training provider. In the current call, applicants offer a range of training methods, including in-class only, online only, an in-car component, or a combination of more than one delivery method.

“Allowing training providers to determine how best to deliver training is also crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, as public health measures such as physical distancing continue.”

Recognizing previous driver training

With regard to the General Government and Licensing Committee meeting of November 30 at which Committee members voted to recognize training received prior to 2016 by existing drivers, staff do not recommend exempting previously trained drivers from the new training program.

“As it has been several years since the City mandated training (that is, since 2016), and the training program includes new and updated topics. For example, the previous training program focused on outdated navigation tools, whereas many drivers in the taxicab, limousine and PTC industries currently use GPS-enabled technology.

“The new training program specifically addresses distracted driving due to technology, including information on new fines and penalties introduced by the provincial government in 2018. In addition, the new training program addresses the changing Toronto transportation network, such as the introduction of transit corridors (that is, King Street as of 2019), and a growing network of cycle tracks and bike lanes. As well, there have been a number of developments in education related to discrimination, diversity and inclusion, and disability awareness. Lastly, there is a small subset of drivers that would qualify for this exemption. Of the taxicab and limousine drivers that were licensed in 2016, only seven percent have a licence in 2021. While there are higher retention rates among taxicab and limousine owners (versus drivers), they are not required to undertake training.”

Sexual assault and harassment prevention

“The Council-adopted training program includes a section on types of harassment under the Ontario Human Rights Code, including sexual harassment. This is an essential part of the existing program, and training participants will be expected to understand different examples of what harassment may include, professional obligations around serving customers without harassment or discrimination, and describe conflict management techniques when addressing unwelcome behaviours.”