TORONTO, Ont. -- The Ontario Trucking Association say the “most important thing” the province can do to stay competitive is “implement economic, investment and tax policies that maintain and attract direct investment in the province’s goods production and retail sectors.” The OTA’s comments were made in response to an Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) discussion paper entitled Building Competitiveness: A Proposed Multimodal Goods Movement Strategy for Ontario.
“This is pivotal,” says OTA president David Bradley. “Goods movement is a derived demand industry and we’ve seen a lot of production leave the province in recent years.” At the same time, he says an efficient, productive and reliable goods movement sector “is a magnet for direct investment.”
Among the specific measures the OTA says Ontario should implement are an expansion of the long-combination vehicle (LCV) program; investment in rest stops that can accommodate trucks, particularly in Northern Ontario; skills development and training initiatives (such as mandatory entry-level training and improved licence standards); incentives for investment in sustainable goods movement through environmentally-friendly technologies; and the introduction of smart highways through the introduction of scale by-pass systems. In addition, the association highlighted the need to ensure faster clearance of highway incidents, particularly on the 400-series highways.
While the OTA encouraged Ontario to continue with strategic investment in border infrastructure and connector highways, it also urged the provincial government to work with the federal government to ensure the measures contained in the Perimeter Vision Action Plan are implemented in a timely manner and that the rules governing things like repositioning movements of empty trailers in both Canada and the US are modernized.
In terms of harmonization, OTA said the province needs to work closely with other provinces, but also with neighbouring US states, particularly on weights and dimensions regulations and perhaps even allowing LCVs to cross the border. According to Bradley, “one way to approach this may be to establish a regional freight policy body including MTO, OTA and members of government and industries from majoring US jurisdictions.”
OTA also highlighted the important role of municipalities in enhancing or impeding efficient goods movement, citing the need to look at the Ontario road system as part of a provincial network, informed and modernized approaches to truck routes and roundabouts, streamlining the process for obtaining special load permits, etc.
OTA urged MTO to continue to engage in meaningful consultation with legitimate industry stakeholders and to build up its understanding and knowledge of emerging trends in truck technology in order to better anticipate potential regulatory implications.
“We look forward to continuing to work with MTO on policies that will allow Ontario’s goods movement sector to excel,” said Bradley. “We are seeking active government partners to develop environmental, operational and financial policies and programs that offer benefits for the goods movement sector and the economy as a whole.”