Steering government in the right direction

by Terry Shaw

As we enter into an election period, both provincially and federally, the output from governments has screeched to a halt.

As I’m sure you already know, this is due to election laws that prevent governments from making certain announcements during the pre-election period. However, the reality is that the government is moving too slowly for the industry, whether they are in an election mode or not.

The trucking industry is at a tipping point: as a new, younger generation is poised to take over the seats both literally and metaphorically, new ideas and ways of doing business will increase. This in an environment that is already seeing a steady pace of change due to new technologies and techniques, be it in terms of HR, efficiency, safety, or elsewhere.

At the same time all of these fantastic innovative opportunities are available in the industry, we are also seeing a movement toward the professionalization of our drivers.

While many in the industry are fully aware of the skills and professionalism of our commercial drivers, the introduction of MELT (mandatory entry level training) will provide classroom and in-cab training to elevate the standards of drivers. While the standard being implemented is pre-licensing training rather than pre-employment training, it is still a standard higher than what we have had, and is long overdue.

I’m not aware of all of the reasons why the government makes the decisions it makes, but as an industry, we need governments to be more responsive as we enter this new phase. It sometimes feels that our interactions with the industry are forward-looking, but we have to keep looking over our shoulder to ensure the government is catching up.

While we have moved on to the next technology (electric trucks, for example), government is still playing catch-up on old technology (glider kits or delete kits). It makes for a strange dichotomy, which we see not only in engine technology, but also in human resources, truck-trailer combinations, and many other areas.

While we are encouraging the governments to move at a quicker pace, we also encourage them to make well informed decisions. We have seen instances where decisions have been rushed, to the detriment of industry.

We are the subject matter experts, and we need the government to involve us so as to make the best decision possible based on available information.

When decisions are ill-informed, the process is slowed down as we mount counter arguments after regulation and legislation has passed without our knowledge or input. It is a fine balance to strike.

Again, I appreciate wanting to have Is dotted and Ts crossed, but what we see so often is that another study, meeting, or conference call simply isn’t necessary. Decisions based on quality information with a desire to move ahead and improve is needed.

Where does that leave us as an industry association? Unfortunately, and with regularity, it leaves us in limbo, as we advocate on behalf of our industry for improvement.

Yes, we understand we have one stakeholder and the government has many, but when all of the stakeholders have had their say, it is time to make a decision and share that.

Will we always be happy with those decision? Of course not, but our industry is resilient and innovative and will always work with those decisions.

So, we will continue our efforts, ensuring we are providing the best information possible to governments – federal, provincial, and municipal – to ensure our industry can keep moving ahead, keep improving, keep safe, and remain competitive.

Terry Shaw oversees the planning and priorities of the MTA, is the lead for political liaison and relations with all levels of government, media relations, and acts as a spokesperson for the industry. He is a member of several MTA committees and represents the association through his involvement with Trucking HR Canada, the Manitoba Employers Council, and the Winnipeg and Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. Terry also engages on national issues as a regional vice-president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, of which he is a board and executive member.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.