Ontario's Ministry of Transportation says there's a backlog of 700,000 road tests just over a month after DriveTest centres resumed in-vehicle driver exams.
The province resumed the exams on June 14, which were shuttered beginning in early April when the third wave of COVID-19 forced a lockdown.
That closure, as well as earlier pandemic-related closures, caused more than 400,000 appointments to be cancelled across Ontario.
Would-be driver Bruce Wood had that happen to him twice in Ottawa. Now he can't find any availability before 2022.
"I've been looking at everything within about a 100-kilometre radius. From Hawkesbury in the east, Renfrew in the West, Cornwall in the south, Smiths Falls, all over the place ... nothing," Wood said.
He said he's even timed out the prompts on DriveTest's phone tree and calls every morning to try to speak to an agent.
WATCH | Trying to book a driving test a frustrating experience for many as Ontario deals with massive backlog
"It's easily the most broken system I've ever dealt with in any corporate world. Even banks do better than this and that's going a long stretch," Wood said.
Wood would like the Ontario government to prioritize drivers who need their G-licence for working or insurance purposes, as well as hire more examiners.
Mariya Zayats, a 20-year-old from Kingston, Ont., hasn't been able to book a test either and wants the government to create a wait list.
"A driver licence ultimately means moving forward in your career, moving forward in life," Zayats said.
Ottawa needs more test centres to deal with the backlog, according to driving instructor Muhyidine Shuriya. The city currently only has two — on Walkley Road and on Canotek Road.
Temporary centres coming to GTA, Hamilton
Ontario's ministry of transportation said licences that expired on or after March 1, 2020 will remain valid until further notice and the additional time G1 and G2 drivers need to book road tests will be considered in how long that extension lasts.
The ministry said it's spending $16 million to increase road testing capacity at existing centres, as well as opening six additional temporary testing centres — though none are in eastern Ontario:
Hamilton and Niagara.
Northern York and Durham regions.
Eastern Durham Region.
Guelph, serving Kitchener-Waterloo and Milton.
The ministry also said it's hired 35 of the planned 84 temporary driving examiners it announced last fall, and is recruiting to hire 167 more by September.
The ministry is encouraging people to check DriveTest.ca regularly for when new blocks of appointments are released.