He’ll believe it when he sees it.

NDP MPP Michael Mantha said he’s skeptical about a provincial plan to reduce delays at DriveTest centres, and possibly allow shuttered satellite offices to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan “won’t make a difference (in rural areas),” Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin) predicted on Nov. 2.

On Oct. 29, the Ministry of Transportation said DriveTest — the private contractor that provides driver exams on behalf of the province — would hire 130 temporary driver examiners to deal with a hefty backlog of 350,000 tests that has built up since the pandemic took hold this spring.

“Our government recognizes that the closure of DriveTest centres due to COVID-19 has caused hardship and uncertainty for people trying to get their driver’s licences,” Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said in a news release.

Mantha said the new hires won’t help if DriveTest examiners continue not to travel to satellite offices during the winter months.

An MTO spokesman said “DriveTest will deploy the (temporary) examiners to locations that are having difficulty meeting customer demand.”

Mantha said some of his constituents have told him they can’t get through to DriveTest by telephone.

Rural residents can travel to DriveTest centres in urban Northern centres like Thunder Bay to take tests, but that creates an extra hardship, said Mantha.

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