Toronto, Ontario — A decision to remove certain elements of the Ontario G class driving test was made without safety evaluations or formal cabinet approval, says Ontario’s acting auditor general Nick Stavropoulos.
Specifically, in his 2023 Annual General Report, Stavropoulos noted that a change to the test which removed “duplicative” elements such as emergency stops, three-point turns and parallel parking, was made “without the support of proper policy analysis.”
Originally, the test changes were made to clear out a backlog of hundreds of thousands of appointments stemming from closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While these changes were supposed to be temporary, in June 2022, the Ontario government announced that the modified test would remain in place permanently due to “high demand for Class G road tests across Ontario.”
The minister of transportation at the time, Caroline Mulroney, said that this change would help streamline the process as the driving maneuvers cut are still a part of the standard G2 tests.
However, Stavropoulos instead pointed out that these changes do not consider how drivers from other countries can bypass G2 licensing steps if they have a driver’s licence from their home country—and thus would not be tested on these cut skills to a Canadian standard.
The Ministry of Transportation did evaluate the modified road test by analyzing changes in the pass-fail rates of the test, the report says, as well as at-fault collision rates of newly licensed G-class drivers. However, Stavropoulos said that overall, this was an ineffective measure as it did not take into account the full range of factors.
According to the report, driver examiners have a “pass rate target” that makes the province’s 71 percent pass rate for full and reduced G road tests inaccurate.
“Supervisors told us that driver examiners with an average weekly pass rate that deviated noticeably from the average—typically 15 percent higher or lower—would be subject to a performance review,” the report says. “As such, there was an incentive for examiners to achieve consistent pass rates.”
In response to the report, the Ministry of Transportation says it will evaluate the road safety impacts of the modified G test as part of a broader evaluation of Ontario’s Graduated Licensing system.