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Quebec driving schools want to hike price up over $1,000

06/26/2015 09:33 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 05:59 EDT
Right now in Quebec, $825 will get you a year of mandatory driving lessons.

That includes 24 hours in a classroom and 15 hours spent behind the wheel, to be delivered over 13 months. 

But the Quebec Association of Driving Schools says the current fee structure means driving schools aren't turning a profit.

"Schools are not making money," said Marc Thompson, the association's general manager.

Currently in Quebec, he said, the maximum a school is allowed to charge a prospective driver is $825. 

He wants the province's automobile insurance board (SAAQ) to raise that to a $1,000 minimum with no maximum.

The reason for that is in some regions like the Gaspé, students drive farther distances with an instructor than they do in cities, he said. 

Unfair competition

Thompson said the government set the price at $825 in 2010, at the time vowing that it would conduct studies to make sure the price was appropriate. However, he toldCBC's Daybreak on Friday, the government never actually did those studies.

Meanwhile, labour and insurance costs have gone up, he said.

Morty Preizler of Morty's Driving School said the lack of profit involved in running a driving school makes it hard to introduce new technology to the course program.

He said his schools are currently implementing a computer program that costs $60,000 to run.

At the same time, he said there are more than 400 driving schools in the Montreal area, some of them offering courses for as low as $500. Preizler said it makes for unfair competition.

"The fly-by-night driving schools are cutting corners," he said.

Thompson said if people can afford $825, they can afford $1,000. He said it's far more expensive to attend driving school in other parts of the country like British Columbia. However, lessons there are not mandatory like they are in Quebec.

Many Quebec driving schools offer flexible, interest-free payment installments to help students cover the cost.

"Driving a car is not a right, it's a privilege," Thompson said.​

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