Tuesday, November 3, 2009

At last, an ally to break Ontario’s DriveTest Strike?

[Warning: There is no Torah in this post, just frustration. And another reason to wonder about Canada.]

680 News reported this morning that truckers would protest Ontario’s DriveTest strike today – I’m glad to finally have an ally.

We moved to Toronto in August, and our auto insurers want us to get Ontario driver’s licenses. It’s a reasonable enough request, but we can’t fulfill it; the Serco DES corporation responsible for licensing has been on strike for months (since August 21, four days after we moved here), and there’s no end in sight.

Part of the problem is that the government lacks any incentive to bring the strike to an end; every day the workers stay home is a day that the government saves money. At one point the employees actually offered to go back to work provisionally, and the government told them not to bother.

Who’s going to lobby for this strike to end - the minuscule number of people who have immigrated to Canada over these couple of months? Even the soon-to-be-voting teenagers have no leverage as they wait to be licensed, since most of their parents are just overjoyed that they don’t need to pay for a car and insurance for their children.

More, strikes here are just part of the culture. They're part of an economic system that favors labor unions. They're as Canadian as the air you breathe, the water you drink, the trash you compost in those tiny rolling green bins you had better lock tight or the natives of the raccoon capital of the world will have a party Wednesday night (video here).

And so it goes. The auto insurers have agreed to extend our insurance for now, but there’s no telling how long that will last. There is one ServiceOntario office in Toronto offering licensing services, but that’s a joke; I went there last week and was told it would be a four-hour wait just to get to the head of the line.

Perhaps the truckers will be the ones to bring this mess to an end. Snarl enough roads, delay enough shipments, and maybe someone will listen.

Ah, for the days of Reagan and the air traffic controllers. Or even the days of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, when the Canadian Army (yes, there is one) came in to break the police strike.

Ironically, this strike was about job security. What does “job security” mean when you sit at home without a paycheck for more than two months? And how much job security do you deserve, when 99% of the province can do just fine without you?


  1. Preach it!!!! COMPLETELY agree with everything said. They are absolutly selfish!

  2. I'm not sure why you need to take a road test when all you need to do is surrender your PA driver license and get an Ontario driver license. All you need to do is pass a vision test, the road test and exam are waived.


  3. Anonymous 2:00-
    No road test required, but the license trade-in reuires the DriveTest folks.

  4. 4 hour wait? That's what they told me too...it ended up being a 7 hr wait from 9:15am till 4:30pm. Finally got in. That was nuts.

  5. Anonymous 7:40 AM-
    Wow. Glad I didn't try to do it with the 4...

  6. It's rediculous. I'm 17 and supposed to be getting my license on Monday but the way things are going that's not going to happen. They have opened six drivetest with managers so truckers can get licenses and immigrants can transfer theirs so I think you're in luck. Anyways, Shabbat Shalom!

  7. Avi-
    Thanks for commenting, but I'm still out of luck. You need to prove it's necessary for your job; so long as insurance agrees to cover me, however expensively, I don't qualify. Good luck with your license!

  8. I can't even open a Canadian bank account on my US licence -- so forget a job, I can't even look for a job. (I'm an adult living with my parents out of necessity, remote from where I'd be job searching). I can't get a lease or mortgage without a bank account, and I'm not going to live in a hotel until this ends!

    So if I can't get the licence soon, I don't know, maybe I have to move to Quebec or something because I'm told
    by the bank I'm obligated to get a licence, but you can't get one in Ontario.

    Very angry to say the least.

  9. Anonymous 1:59 PM-
    And that situation doesn't qualify you for the special centres? Wow.

  10. I found out after 5 about them being open, and I was too sick Friday (sinus infection) to be able to head out into the eye of the storm.

    I went to the Kitchener location this afternoon. Only bad part is we had to stand outside in the cold -- not good for sinus infections -- but the wait was only about 20 minutes. I explained the situation and had no trouble changing the license at all. In fact, it seemed they were handling virtually all out of province exchanges.

    Be warned, however, unlike most provinces and states, Ontario does not issue drivers' licenses on the spot, which can present problems. I was told they will not arrive for 2-6 weeks in the mail, and I have a cumbersome paper that does not fit in my wallet in the meantime!

    I heard there were some problems this morning with picketing strikers harassing patrons, which was against a deal apparently brokered last week. Police removed the picketers to the edge of the strip mall, and there was no picket line at all, just four or five striking employees sitting beside a shop at the end of the strip mall.

  11. Forgot to mention in the last post... I'm the one who wondered if moving to Quebec was my only option in the previous post!!