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Canadian Transport Ministers Review HOS: MVTA Adoption to Be Delayed Until 2006

OTTAWA, Ont. - Provincial transport ministers met in late September in Quebec City to discuss their adoption of the new Canadian hours of service rules. According to CTA officials, some of the industry's major concerns with the new rules and the p...

OTTAWA, Ont. – Provincial transport ministers met in late September in Quebec City to discuss their adoption of the new Canadian hours of service rules. According to CTA officials, some of the industry’s major concerns with the new rules and the proclamation of the MVTA were addressed.

During their meeting, the ministers reportedly deliberated over a proposed amendment from Transport Canada that would extend the proposed “working window” from 16 hours to 18 hours.

Under the current draft regulation a driver must get all of his driving and working time in within 16 hours of coming on duty. If a driver is working the maximum hours (14), this leaves only two additional hours for breaks, delays, naps, etc. For many drivers where delays at shipper/consignee facilities, has become an unfortunate but regular occurrence, this eats directly into the driver’s productive time.

This not only risks eating into the driver’s earning potential, but it also discourages drivers from stopping to rest and to take breaks for meals, hygiene, etc. pointed out CTA officials.

“We have heard from drivers that this is their major concern with the proposed Canadian rules as presently drafted,” said CTA CEO David Bradley. “It puts them under more pressure than they are already under and from a safety perspective creates a bizarre circumstance where a driver would be penalized for taking more than the prescribed amount of off-duty time.”

Transport Canada’s proposed amendment would not alter the currently proposed daily limits on driving, he said. Bradley also welcomed reports that the council of ministers has directed the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) to review the impact of the 18-hour working window proposal in consultation with the industry and to report within 60 days.

This would enable the federal government to introduce a final regulation, which the associations are hopeful will include an 18-hour window, by Jan. 1, 2005. Each province would then have one year to introduce the federal rules in their regulations before coming into force.

The CTA also expects the council of ministers to extend the date for the coming into force of the new MVTA from Jan. 1, 2005, until Jan. 1, 2006, in order to give provinces more time to improve the level of consistency between the various provincial carrier safety ratings systems. According to the CTA, this a key desire of the industry, which fears the uneven playing field that could be created when carriers from various provinces with essentially the same performance could receive different safety ratings.

Concern over this potential for an unequal playing field caused the Ontario government to rate all out-of-province carriers operating into and out of the province, something that did not always sit well with other jurisdictions but was supported by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA). Both the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and OTA have argued that premature proclamation of the MVTA in 2005 – in the absence of meaningful measures to address the lack of national consistency – would make it illegal for Ontario to rate out-of-province carriers from Canada and the U.S., putting Ontario carriers at a competitive disadvantage.

Carriers from across Canada are also concerned about whether the U.S. will grant reciprocity for 10 somewhat different provincial ratings programs.

The answer, according to the CTA, is probably not.

However, the association does expect provinces will have the authority to monitor/rate U.S. carriers that operate within their jurisdictions, though details of how this would work are still not available.

Nevertheless, said Bradley, “If indeed this is how things played out at the ministers’ meeting, while it does not completely address our concerns, it does indicate the governments have been listening showing a willingness to try and resolve our concerns. But, we’ll have to keep their feet to the fire to ensure everyone follows through before 2006.”

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