Province aims to expand DriveTest capacity in Ottawa in October

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Ontario's Ministry of Transportation says it plans to expand DriveTest capacity in Ottawa in October in order to clear an extensive backlog of road tests.

The province said on Monday that it would be offering G2 and G road tests seven days a week at temporary locations in Burlington and Markham starting Sept. 7. Another temporary road test centre will open Sept. 20 at the East Gwillimbury GO Station to offer class G2 and G road tests seven days a week.

In its release, the province said four more temporary road test centres will be opened "in the coming weeks" to serve Ottawa, Mississauga, southwestern Ontario, and Niagara Region.

CTV News Ottawa spoke to some new drivers earlier this year, who said their appointments aren't available until 2022.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the MTO said staff are looking for locations for a temporary DriveTest site to boost capacity.

The ministry also plans to hire more than a dozen new examiners.

"The ministry’s service provider is currently looking for locations for the temporary site in Ottawa, and it is expected that site will open in October 2021," the statement said. "Ten new driver examiners will be deployed to the temporary road test centre with an additional 4 examiners being deployed to the Ottawa Walkley DriveTest centre. This will increase the driver examiner complement in Ottawa by 54 per cent."

Earlier this month, it was reported that there was a backlog of 700,000 road tests across Ontario. The MTO said in its statement Wednesday that the backlog now sits at roughly 677,000 passenger road tests.

"This backlog is a result of closures and ongoing restrictions for passenger road testing at DriveTest centres due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, there have been approximately 421,827 road tests cancelled across the province due to closures and Grey-Lockdown restrictions," the spokesperson said.

Liberal MPP accuses province of leaving Ottawa behind

Liberal MPP for Orléans Stephen Blais told Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron" on Tuesday that he thinks the Ottawa area is being treated like a "second class city" following two provincial announcements about expanded DriveTest capacity that included few details for the capital.

"If they're opening a DriveTest centre in Gwillimbury, seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., why aren't they doing it in Ottawa? If they're hiring more instructors or more test-takers in these other locations, why aren't they doing it in Ottawa?" Blais asked. "Ottawa is the second biggest city in the province. We've got a million people living here, let alone the exurban area in greater eastern Ontario."

Blais called on Ottawa's Progressive Conservative MPPs to advocate for increasing DriveTest capacity in the region.

"Ottawa should not be at the back of the pack," he said. "We've got four members of the government representing our city. None of them have spoken about this as far as I understand. We need the resources in our city to get through the backlog, just like they do in Guelph, just they do in Oshawa, and Burlington, and Mississauga, and Toronto and all of the other places across the GTA where they government's already announced the expansion of DriveTests."