Ontario to open temporary drive test centres to clear backlog caused by COVID-19

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Ontario is opening temporary road test centres to help address a large testing backlog that built up due to pandemic lockdowns.

The province said the centres would open in areas where demand is highest to help more new drivers get their G2 and G licences.

The province resumed in-car driving tests on June 14, but the backlog has left many new drivers struggling to find a test slot. Some have said the first available slots are often months in the future.

The Ministry of Transportation said Wednesday that there is currently a backlog of approximately 700,000 road tests in Ontario.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the province is taking action to clear the backlog so that new drivers who need a test "can get one as soon as possible."

"As Ontario continues to head in the right direction in the fight against COVID-19, we have an aggressive plan in place to hire additional temporary driver examiners, open additional centres to offer road testing, and extend weekday operating hours for passenger road testing, including weekends," she said in a statement.

The ministry plans to hire 167 temporary driver examiners to address the backlog, adding to the 84 examiners who were hired in the fall of 2020.

Temporary road test centres will open in Guelph and Oshawa on Monday, while others will open in Toronto, Hamilton/Niagara, Mississauga/Brampton, and York/Durham in September, the province said.

Masks, hand sanitizer and screening questions will be mandatory for tests, vehicle windows must be open to allow airflow and drivers could be required to provide their phone number if contact tracing is needed.

The province said all staff will wear personal protective equipment and examiners would have face shields, sanitizers and seat covers.

The Ministry of Transportation said last month that 421,827 road tests have been cancelled since March 2020 due to pandemic-related lockdowns.

Drivers who had their road tests cancelled due to the pandemic are expected to receive a credit to rebook their exams, the province said.

Starting Monday, the two temporary centres in Guelph and Oshawa will exclusively offer G2 and G road tests daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Oshawa site will be open seven days a week while the one in Guelph will only take appointments Monday to Friday and expand operations to seven days a week in November, the province said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021.