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Alleged truck licence mill uncovered in B.C.

SURREY, B.C. -- Authorities are investigating a B.C. truck-driving school for allegedly dolling out forged class 1 licence documents to about 160 Indian immigrants, the Globe & Mail reported this weekend.

According to the newspaper, South West Driving Academy Ltd. in Surrey, B.C. has been the subject of a yearlong investigation by the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia.

A 108-page search warrant was issued and executed on May 30. The investigation is continuing, however, and no charges have yet been laid, the Globe reports.

Students -- many of whom are Indian immigrants -- allegedly obtained commercial licences using fake documents that state they have the required driving experience that's needed before getting a class 1.

According to ICBC, an undercover officer approached South West posing as a truck-driving student. He was offered fake documents purporting to be from authorities in India and told how to make them look authentic.

British Columbia Trucking Association President Paul Landry told the newspaper that the incident was a "slap in the face to the professionals in our industry."

A truck school scandal in Alberta two years ago kindled calls for a professional driving standard in that province.

Calgary's Delta Driving School was shut down in 2005 after several hundred unqualified drivers were given class 1 licences. Many of the drivers crossed the border into B.C., causing ICBC to subsequently retest over 100 drivers who received a licence from the Delta school.

In April, the Professional Driver Certificate Program was launched by the trucking industry, the government, and Red Deer College.

The two-year pilot program, based on the Canadian Human Resources Trucking Council's Earning Your Wheels program, combines theory and a minimum of 60 hours of in-cab training with a coaching mentor.

-- with files from the Globe & Mail

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