NO TOLLS WITHOUT CONTROLS: The QTA does not want the Quebec government to tender any toll contracts without controls over the tolls they charge.
MONTREAL, Que. – Group insurance, cargo containment rules, hours of service, union activity and more are on the Quebec Trucking Association’s agenda this year.
And after the owners of Ontario’s private road, the 407, raised toll rates in February, the association was forced to reiterate its stand on the toll road concept here.
The QTA does not want the Quebec government to tender any toll contracts without controls over the tolls they charge, according to Marc Brouillette, the president of the council of the board of the QTA.
“A contract will have to be very well-tied contractually to the government. Rates have to be justified,” he says. The QTA’s position, says executive VP Marc Cadieux, “…is we are not against the toll roads as long as there are alternate ways, and that toll roads are new roads, and that they give (trucks) an economic advantage.”
The QTA is working to obtain group rates for its members for re-insurance, which covers loss and liability above and beyond what is covered by regular insurance.
“Most transporters have primary insurance policies of one to three million dollars,” says Cadieux.
“We are trying to build up a group insurance for more than $3 million. You would be able, through the QTA, to buy over $3 million.”
For the first time, the QTA is using the clout of its 1,000 members, including 700 carriers, to negotiate a group rate with a guaranteed amount of business.
A typical carrier saw its rates rise 25-30 per cent in 2003, according to Cadieux.
“But I have seen horror stories of up to 100 per cent. We were asked by our members what we were going to do about this. It is hitting us very hard. We had no choice but to respond,” he says.
“We are looking at very well established and known insurance companies. We have hired an actuary, established the level of risk: we have gathered over 200 files in different categories of risk.
“Out of these we have built different categories; for example, fuel and dry goods. Out of these categories we have identified particular transporters with real needs for particular kinds of insurance and what their rates would be.”
If all goes as planned, QTA members can expect better than average rates and even rebates if the program exceeds certain goals.
The QTA will have had a good idea of the success of its efforts by this spring.
The new hours of service regulations kicked in on Jan. 5 in the U.S., and the QTA is busy analyzing its impact on the different trucking sectors and sharing that information with its members.
The association held a general meeting with members in February, and has tentatively scheduled a course for managers on March 10 and has a course for carrier trainers scheduled for May 12-13.
There is a lot to absorb about the impact of the hours of service changes – impacts that differ depending on what type of service a carrier provides, be it multiple stops, deliveries at fixed times, driver participation in unloading cargo, border waits or trips that are planned at the last minute.
The courses will discuss such impacts and what carriers might have to do to handle them.
The QTA has already run courses on new cargo containment regulations, but is always willing to run more at the request of a sufficiently large group.
Other courses on offer cover workplace techniques (one scheduled for March 3 and three more tentatively scheduled for June, September and October), the ABCs of Canadian and American border programs (courses to be offered as per demand), Bill 430 (May 19 and a course tentatively scheduled for November), wheel maintenance (March 25), American drugs and alcohol regulations (June 1 and a course tentatively scheduled for December) and federal regulations on the transportation of dangerous goods (April 21 and a course tentatively scheduled for November).
One wild card that concerns the QTA this year is the threat of more union protests.
The unions’ concerns have nothing to do with the trucking industry, but their modus operandi when it comes to organized protests certainly does. “December 12 (when 500,000 demonstrators plugged Quebec streets) was a hell of a day for us. There was a lot of vandalism in the Port of Montreal. It paralyzed the whole chain of logistics,” says Cadieux.
“It is the whole sensitivity of what kind of force you should use to get back your activities. Use a front-end loader to take back the road?
“There are gray zones. I think unions have to realize they might get hit with recourses from corporations to recoup their losses.”