Driving transport and dump trucks is all Ahmad Al Rasoul has known to make a living.
The 50-year-old Toronto man has worked as a truck driver in his native Syria, as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, where his family had stayed for four years before they arrived in Toronto in 2016 as government-sponsored refugees under Ottawa’s massive Syrian resettlement program.
“My family is grateful to Canada. We don’t want to be a burden to the country. We just want to start working and support our family as soon as possible,” Rasoul, who fled Homs in 2012 with his wife and six children, said through an Arabic interpreter.
“Everywhere I had been, I got my licence and worked right away. I expected it would take some time for lawyers and engineers to get licensed, but I didn’t expect it’s going to take this long just to get my full licence to work as a driver in Canada.”
In Ontario, because of a 12-month wait period before a G2 licenseholder can take a road test for a full G licence, Rasoul is unable to work in food deliveries and transport industry to supplement his income.
Despite a provision that allows an exemption to the waiting period for foreign-trained drivers, the required paperwork is almost impossible for refugees to obtain, especially those from war-torn countries.
With help from volunteer Omar Khan, Rasoul is taking the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) to the human rights tribunal after officials refused to accommodate him and other refugees in similar circumstances. A hearing date is pending after a failed mediation session in May.
The exemption for foreign-trained drivers applies only to applicants who can provide written authentication of their foreign licensed driving experience from the original licensing agency or from the local embassy or consulate.
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