A Red Deer man has been trying to book an Alberta road test for about five months.
Ian Ross, 47, came back to Canada in April after spending six years in the U.K. He is now dependent on his parents to get anywhere.
Around April, Ross booked a road test for June and unfortunately failed it. He was told to wait a couple of weeks before booking another, but since then, there haven’t been any appointments available.
“I need a licence. My parents are older. I want to help them and drive them around and get groceries and do the things you need to do,” he said.
“And I have checked twice a week since around July,” he said, adding there’s nothing available about 100 kilometres of Red Deer, which is the maximum search area he sees online.
Ross has also been in touch with local driving schools and licence offices looking for answers.
“As a government that’s trying to get Alberta working, it seems to me it’s easier than building a pipeline. Let’s just put it that way.”
The ordeal has been frustrating for Ross, who feels he has lost his independence.
“I can’t leave the house, unless I’m walking, and let me tell you, people do not walk in Red Deer. It’s me and people who are homeless … even in the summer, it’s not a driving city.
“Whereas in England, you walk everywhere or you take the train.”
Jim Reed, the owner of Bulldog Driver Training Ltd. in Red Deer, said the backlog Ross is experiencing is not common, but it is normal right now.
Reed said his business used to conduct about eight to 10 commercial road tests a day and another six to eight Class 5 examinations, but now it’s down to about six exams a month.
That means Reed has been losing business and hearing complaints from customers who sometimes believe it’s the school’s fault.
“The commercial road tests are an absolute joke, and so are the Class 5s.”
Reed said the wait for a road test is anywhere from six weeks to about three or four months.
Earlier this year, the NDP government eliminated privatized road testing, citing reports of poor service, high fees and a lack of access in smaller centres.
The tests are still administered through private registry agencies, but government examiners test the drivers.
In a statement Tuesday the Alberta Ministry of Transportation said the province is working to fix the NDP’s broken driver system. Since taking office, the province has hired examiners and authorized overtime and weekends.
As winter progresses, UCP expects the demand to decrease helping Alberta Transportation to reduce wait times further.
The provincial government is looking for feedback on the type of improvements that can be made. The survey is available until Dec. 22.