RENFREW, ONT. -- Young drivers in Renfrew County are being forced to wait even longer to gain their independence, with G2 testing backed up well into the new year.

Billie Leckie drove from White Lake to the DriveTest centre in Renfrew to book a G2 test for her son. Leckie said she tried booking online, but the earliest test available wasn’t until March 2021.

“We’ve been waiting, they told us to check back here every once and a while. So we’ve been here a couple times to get one and we still can’t even get one in February now of next year,” says Leckie.

Leckie says her family lives out in the country, and her son needs his licence to get to and from his job. Booking outside of Renfrew is tricky as well. The testing location at the Service Ontario in Arnprior remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Carleton Place testing site only recently reopened for one day a week on Wednesdays, and Leckie says going to Pembroke is not a good option because they have never driven there.

“We were talking to Young Drivers and they said Ottawa is already booked up so we haven’t even tried that way,” said Leckie.

Nevertheless, that’s not stopping young drivers like 17-year-old Dimitri Soueiti from coming from Ottawa to take their G2 tests. Soueiti was set to get his G2 licence in June but was delayed due to the pandemic.

“I booked my first one in August for November 28, and then I just kept trying to check every day to get an earlier date. I rescheduled twice, actually. I went from November 28 to October 28, to today.”

Soueiti says he managed to pick up a cancelled appointment at the Renfrew testing site, and has been checking online everyday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.—apparently the best time to check for open appointments.

“I’ve been checking everyday from here to Brockville, just trying to get the closest date possible because I really need my licence. I have work, school, all this, and I really need to get places by myself,” says Soueiti.

The backlog is set to get worse though, with the hours of operation at the Renfrew DriveTest site set to be cut in half at the beginning of November. Currently open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., the DriveTest centre will soon be open only on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In a statement, the Ministry of Transportation recommended those looking for a G2 test continue to check online. 

“As driver testing services are gradually reintroduced through our phased plan, DriveTest will offer additional road test appointments to help address the current backlog. Drivers can continue to check the DriveTest website for new blocks of road test appointments,” the MTO said.