Driving tests booked up until 2024, says Sudbury driver

The backlog of in-vehicle road tests resulting from COVID-19 restrictions and closures continues to take its toll on drivers across the province, but especially here in the north.

With a car she purchased on her own and with lots of places to go, Joanne Richer said she’s feeling a lot of pressure to complete the road test and get her G licence.

“I went for my G a couple weeks ago but I didn’t pass," Richer said. "You have to wait 10 days to rebook, and within those 10 days and a little bit, everything is booked up until June 2024.”

CTV reached out to the Ministry of Transportation about Richer’s situation and received a statement that said, in part:

“DriveTest only posts road test appointments up to six months in advance. For example, if a user’s licence expires in 2025, they will see a calendar that includes dates in 2025. The user may see a fully greyed out calendar into 2025, but that does not mean there are no tests until 2025.

"As measures to address capacity are implemented, additional road test appointments will be made available at both existing and temporary testing centres across the province. New road test appointments are added throughout the week and we encourage customers to check www.drivetest.ca regularly for new appointments as they are released.”

Richer said it’s likely she will be able to complete her test before her G2 license expires in three years, but she's feeling a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

“I believe there’s a bylaw where I can go for my G1 again and then immediately get my G2 (and) not have to wait the five to eight months, but because there’s so much backlog in the booking, I don’t think I’d be able to just get my G2 right after re-getting G1 and I drive to school every day, so I would have to depend on a ride.”

Sudbury MPP Jamie West said he’s heard many stories like Richer's and said he knows how important it is for northerners specifically to be able to drive.

“A lot of places in the north, they have no transit at all," West said.

"Your way to get to place to place, to work to school, is to drive and so when you have these delays -- and we’re talking about long delays you know months maybe even years -- when you have a long delay in order to get your licence, that cuts you off from being able to work, being able to go to school, bring your kids to child care.”

West said temporary road test centres were set up by the Ontario government in recent months, but only in southern Ontario, not the north.

Officials with the ministry said that is just one part of the plan to clear the backlog. Temporary driver examiners have been hired and operating hours have been extended, including weekends.