Canada continues steady march to ELD mandate

There was a time when Canada was on track to have an electronic logging device (ELD) mandate established before our neighbors to the south. So, why is Canada now nearly four years behind the U.S. on ELDs?

The U.S. first proposed the use of electronic logs in 2007, and by 2010 they had finalized a rule, which went into effect seven years later.

After a two-year grandfather clause, the U.S. ELD mandate took full effect in December 2019.

Canada was once taking the lead on mandating ELDs, but then the U.S. pushed ahead. (Photo: istock)

Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Transport Council of Canada (PMTC), said Canada first started consulting on a possible ELD mandate around the same time as the U.S., about 13 years ago.

“It was a pretty broad-based consultation. It was more to get people’s opinions and thoughts,” said Millian. “I think Canada had it in their head first, and then the U.S. started consulting fairly shortly after that. And rightly, after the U.S. started consulting about it, Transport Canada and the U.S. realized there was no point in (Canada) jumping out and doing something on their own when so many of our members go south of the border. So, they were still going to consult on it but they weren’t going to put a rule or regulation in place until they worked with the U.S. to see what their rule was going to be.”

“I think Canada had it in their head first, and then the U.S. started consulting fairly shortly after that.”

– Mike Millian, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada

Millian points out that though there are Hours of Service (HoS) differences between Canada and the U.S., the rules and regulations had to be similar enough so that a particular ELD manufacturer could have their device certified on both sides of the border.

“I think that’s the reason why Canada slowed down,” he said. “Once the U.S. got its technical specifications done, Canada finalized its technical specification.”

Slowing the process even more was the fact that the U.S.’s first technical specification was thrown out due to various issues, such as privacy concerns. This little hiccup forced Canada to delay its own rule until the U.S. completed theirs.

“Stuff with governments moves at a snail’s pace,” said Millian, “and when you have governments on two sides of the border that are trying to make sure whatever regulation they come up with is going to be workable on both sides, it can slow things down quite a bit.”

Transport Canada told Today’s Trucking that that process to implement an ELD mandate began with an informal pre-consultation survey sent to industry stakeholders, ELD providers, and provincial and territorial governments in the summer of 2016. Early 2017 saw additional consultations to address policy issues, as well as a cost-benefit analysis conducted by Transport Canada to measure the impact of the proposed mandate.

“For the federal government to make a new rule or regulation, the department must follow the process outlined in Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management,” Transport Canada told Today’s Trucking. “This includes, for instance, pre-publishing proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, along with a comment period, and other outreach activities, such as consultations.”

More than 60 comments were collected from trucking and freight associations, unions, motor carriers, and drivers.

“Transport Canada learned from these consultations that the provinces and territories, and a significant number of industry stakeholders, supported creating a third-party certification requirement for ELDs,” indicated Transport Canada. “They expressed particular concerns in the effectiveness and reliability of a self-certification process as implemented in the U.S. Based on these observations, Transport Canada decided to create a third-party certification process that requires all ELD models used by motor carriers and drivers to be certified.”

Geoffrey Wood, senior vice-president of policy for the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), agrees that Canada’s harmonization with the U.S. ELD mandate is vital, and that third-party certification is the way to go.

“The intent from Day 1 was to ensure as much consistency as possible between the U.S. and Canada with respect to ELDs,” said Wood. “Substantial collaboration between U.S. and Canadian officials has taken place and will continue. Since the U.S. rule was established, third-party certification has been identified as an important item to address in the Canadian context.”

Despite widespread approval of a third-party certification process, there is work to do.

During the PMTC’s annual conference this year – held virtually in early September – Millian urged the federal government to delay the implementation of the ELD mandate for six months.

Millian believes industry needs more time to certify compliant ELDs, and that some fleets will need more time to roll out a compliant system before it takes effect in June 2021.

He believes it will take four to six weeks for the manufacturers to have devices certified.

“So, the first devices we’re going to see in the marketplace will be at the end of November,” he said. “That leaves carriers 6-1/2 months to comply with the regulation.”

Trimble, a large ELD provider, indicated during its virtual in.sight User Conference Aug. 25 that it would be ready to comply with Canada’s ELD mandate, and is planning to release its first set of product features required by the Canadian ELD mandate starting in the fourth quarter of this year.

“What we discovered is more Trimble Transportation mobility customers than not have at least some level of operation in Canada, whether it is your entire fleet or just occasionally a truck or two,” said product manager Denise Grove.

Trimble plans to submit its ELD for third-party certification in the first quarter of 2021.

Canada continues push forward

Wood said the Canadian government has no intention of delaying the ELD mandate’s rollout.

This October will mark the commercial release of the first Canadian compliance features, with the ELD mandate taking effect June 12, 2021.

In the lead-up to the implementation date, Wood said the CTA will continue to help carriers prepare for the mandated use of ELDs with education and awareness initiatives, planning for provincial adoption of ELD regulations, and continued enforcement of devices that are designed for the sole purpose of skirting HoS rules.

Once ELDs are off and running, the CTA’s work will be far from complete.

“We need to ensure speeds don’t creep up to compensate for inefficiencies in the supply chain,” said Wood. “An efficient supply chain that keeps drivers and equipment moving needs to be front and center.”

He added that strict regulations with respect to manufacturing, solicitation, sale, and operation of non-third-party certified ELDs will also be key.

“Transport Canada’s new rules for electronic logging devices are already feasible for industry, as they align with those in place in the U.S., and they will support economic growth, trade, and transportation on both sides of the border,” Transport Canada said. “Mandatory use of these devices in Canada, beginning in June 2021, will help ensure that commercial drivers will drive within their limit and accurately log their working hours, making roads safer for industry workers and all other Canadians.”

  • With files from James Menzies
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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • eld are a great thing if they were properly set up i run people net and it does not allow me to email my logs to a mto officer in canada since they it runs a american program other then that it is great i can tell dispatch that i cant do what they want and why they need to be implemented now not later to many companies allowing drivers to run illegally and dont repermend them which akes it hard on the companies in which they r running legal