Anchor-like economy

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TORONTO, Ont. – Are you feeling down lately? Not enough money or no time to enjoy it even if you have it? Think maybe you’re doing something wrong? What about those around you, how are they faring?

Well if you think you are the only one getting screwed by today’s economic climate, it’s OK, everyone is taking their turn on the whipping post.

The lack of money is always the top complaint to be heard amongst Canada’s many drivers but it isn’t the only thing affecting their mood.

For 12-year driver and Sault Ste. Marie native Gordon Rousseau, he simply states the economy “…sucks; the cost of living goes up all the time but our wages are staying the same.”

Of course driving long haul was once a profitable venture, but with the value of today’s dollar he says he’s starting to wonder, “is it really worth it?” Rousseau was once an esteemed o/o.

“Last year I owned my own truck, but that didn’t last long,” he says.

Having leased it with a loophole, which would allow him to return the truck if he wasn’t making enough money, he did just that.

“The company I was with promised me at least 3,000 miles, and I didn’t get it,” he says. With the amount of drivers who are crawling out of the woodwork, Rousseau believes it only gives the already numerous companies more ability to undercut an already low rate.

“The exchange rate to run to the States has also gone up so high, it’s barely profitable to run down there,” says Rousseau.

Although eating in truck stops may not always be the healthiest way to live, having that option was once a benefit. Rousseau explains that having to eat out of his cooler to save money is getting pretty bland.

“How many ways can you make a peanut butter sandwich?” he asks.

Robert Ravier, MTL Montreal Truckload Inc. driver feels the exact same way. This driver makes five trips a week from Montreal to Toronto and remembers a time when long haul trucking was a very profitable business.

“I used to go to the States, but not anymore. It’s too expensive; your weekly cost of living on the road in Canada can run up to $120. When you go to the south, that turns into $250. It is very unfortunate because there is a lot of work there,” he says.

For Rousseau, the difference can be noticed right here at home. He once drove truck almost exclusively around Northern Ontario, but can’t anymore. Companies in Southern Ontario offer better rates.

“You make more in Toronto,” he says.

Ravier says there are too many cars, too much pollution and a deadly rush hour starting as early as 5:30 a.m. from Bowmanville to Milton.

“If you get here too late you spend 100 miles in traffic and it takes three-and-a-half hours to get across the city.”

As consumers, both interviewees for this story felt at one time, buying amenities to add comfort to their life on the road was do-able, but now only the bare necessities pass the cash registers.

Ravier believes some accessories are definitely worth buying, however, such as CB units.

“You need to talk to people after driving a long while,” he says. “It is understandable how some might not be able to afford it.”

Rousseau has the bare necessities and is content with just that.

“Don’t get me wrong, I would like to have a fancy truck, but I couldn’t afford it,” he says.

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