Union calls on BC government to end driver testing backlog

Union calls on BC government to end driver testing backlog
People from the lower mainland have been coming to Vancouver Island for driver testing after a backlog caused by a pandemic shutdown.

The union representing ICBC driver examiners says the government should be working harder to keep people from travelling from the mainland to Vancouver Island for their road tests.

There has been a testing backlog since facilities reopening in August and the union says some people are breaking COVID travel rules to get their test sooner.

Port Alberni resident, Yanni Fandrakis, is among those who’ve had to wait a long time for a road test – originally having it scheduled for June but has since been delayed due to the pandemic.

When he was finally able to rebook, appointments were disappearing fast.

“I started panicking and all the bookings in Port Alberni were full, so I checked out Nanaimo and took the first one I saw.”

Fandrakis is not alone, either.

From March to August, ICBC driving tests were suspended, creating a backlog.

Many mainlanders, instead of waiting, have booked earlier appointments for driver’s tests in Nanaimo or Victoria.

“It’s not just road tests, by the way, it’s also knowledge tests. I’ve heard today that lots of people are coming from the mainland to do their knowledge tests on Vancouver Island and again it’s a public health risk to have that happen,” said Annette Toth, Vice-President of the Movement of United Professionals.

The union represents driver examiners and says the backlog is causing people on Vancouver Island to travel outside their communities to get tested, which shouldn’t happen during a pandemic.

Toth says the government has hired more examiners, but not quite enough.

The BC Liberals critic of the Solicitor General, Mike Morris, says the problem stems from the definition of essential travel.

“It’s pretty hard for people to try and define things and it makes it even harder for enforcement personnel to provide some level of enforcement as well when the definitions are so ill-defined in many cases,” said Morris.

In a statement, the Attorney General’s Ministry says it’s looked at road tests done on all of Vancouver Island and “…found over the past three months, just 5 per cent of applicants are from the Lower Mainland.”

With an extra 80 driver examiners temporarily hired province-wide, it says appointments are now available on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

Fandrakis says he’s glad he was able to test Friday and he’s now able to drive after earning his license.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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