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Taking your amateur radio exam at an Industry Canada office

I find these questions in the Basic Qualification exam to be really ridiculous:

There are a number of questions about this:

  • That the fee at an Industry Canada office for the exam is $20
  • That if you use an accredited volunteer exam, the fee is “negotiable”
  • And that the certificate itself is free.

First off, I think this is really weird and pointless to include in an official test. Like, if I’m taking the test somewhere, can’t the person giving me the test just tell me how much it costs? Or you know, like just post it on the website. Why try to trick me and make me memorize all this?

Anyway, I’m nearing the time to take my exam, and I’ve already found a qualified examiner. I think it’s slightly weird, personally, that I have to arrange all this myself. Do I have to go to the house of a stranger for this? Why can’t there just be an agreed-on fee for the test? What if I don’t want to negotiate?

So I wrote to Industry Canada (now called ISED, Innovation, Science & Economic Development) to find out about taking the test at an official office. Based on their responses to me, this seems really frowned upon, despite the fact that the test itself TELLS ME it’s an option (a right?). They simply told me the URL to look up examiners near me. When I questioned whether it was even an option to take it at the office anymore, they responded:

“I can pass along your request to the Ottawa office. Β Please note, these appointments are scheduled on a case by case basis. In addition, there is a $20 administrative fee, should you wish to move forward with having the exam done at an Innovation, Science and Economic Development office in Ottawa.

An accredited examiner will be more readily available, and not all examiners request a nominal feel to cover their administrative costs.”

If you don’t know Canadian geography, Ottawa is a 5+ hour drive from where I live. I’m assuming they don’t mean that I would have to drive out to Ottawa to take a $20 test which, as far as I can tell, is supposed to be readily available to me. What does this mean that scheduling a test is done on a “case by case basis?” Is it possible my request might be refused by the government?

Perhaps this is just a case of a mid-level functionary who just wants to get me out of their hair. But given the overall difficulty of even the Basic qualification in Canada (versus the simplicity of the Technician class exam in the US), it almost feels like it’s intentional, that they are actively trying to dissuade people from getting involved with this technology. Perhaps there is an unexpressed desire to kill off the hobby and re-allocate the bandwidth to paid industrial applications.

I don’t know, but so far this is sadly par for the course up here. Canada, if it really wants to innovate, ought to set up a novice/technician license option and make it easier for new users to get on the air.

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