Truck News


CCRA heeds AMPS criticism, kicks off review

OTTAWA, Ont. - The Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) recently kicked off a six-month review of its Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS), in the wake of increasing pressure by truckin...

OTTAWA, Ont. – The Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) recently kicked off a six-month review of its Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS), in the wake of increasing pressure by trucking industry groups.

The news was welcome to carriers, many of whom complain the penalty amounts are too large, or that they are being unfairly penalized for honest mistakes and clerical errors. (Over 8,700 contraventions have been assessed by CCRA since AMPS was implemented in October 2002, for a total $5 million in fines, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance.)

CTA officials also seemed optimistic.

A CTA press release issued after the review launch, attended by Minister Elinor Caplan as well as CTA officials, stated Caplan acknowledged the system’s imperfections and promised changes could be made to the fine system prior to the release of the review’s final report this fall.

“There appears to be a genuine desire on the part of the Minister and the CCRA to listen and make changes,” said Bradley, who has been keeping a close eye on developments.

“As always, the proof will be in the pudding, but they appeared to be taking a reasonable and rational approach.”

Key issues for the CTA are:

Volume – Large-volume carriers are exposed to significantly more penalties even for simple mistakes. With graduated penalties and a three-year reset it is difficult for carriers to return to the lower penalty levels;

Penalty Amounts – CTA contends some of the penalty levels do not have to be as high as they are in order to change behavior. Often cited is the delivery before release where fines were increased from $400 to $1000 on first offence;

Officer Discretion – CTA wants to address carrier and driver concerns about the possibility that individual enforcement officers could single out carriers and/or drivers for “special treatment”;

Accountability – CTA wants to ensure intent is more broadly applied. For example, CCRA cannot impose an AMP on a U.S. shipper and will go after the carrier if a discrepancy occurs.

According to the CTA, “the big ticket” penalties from a carrier’s standpoint have been (1) delivery prior to release of goods; (2) incorrect use of carrier codes; and (3) bar code violations. Between October, 2002 and March, 2003, these three violations alone have cost carriers over $900,00 in fines, according to the CTA. That’s about 2/3 of the AMPS revenue collected from carriers, according to the CTA, which isn’t alone in wanting to make improvements to AMPS.

Private carriers should also be optimistic about the ongoing review, said Private Motor Truck Council (PMTC) president Bruce Richards.

Both Richards and PMTC consultant Frank Bowen have been following AMPS since its inception.

“We certainly support the CTA in its demand for a graduated penalty system for larger carriers,” Bowen said.

“Larger carriers have more trucks and personnel and are therefore more exposed to being in violation of customs requirements. Allowances should be made for that, in terms of the number of infractions they’re allowed to make.”

Bowen was skeptical, however, about gaining any ground on this issue, although his general feeling about the review was positive.

“They (the CCRA) have generally shown themselves to be open and interested in issues of concern to the trucking industry, but the proposed graduated scale of violations for larger carriers hasn’t had any success yet.”

This despite the fact the Ontario Ministry of Transport already uses a graduated scale of penalties for violations under its CVOR requirements, Bowen pointed out.

“What the MTO has done here in Ontario is understand that the larger the carrier the more exposure to potential (infractions) and the more things that can fall through the cracks because of sheer volume.”

But whether or not the CCRA decides to change AMPS to accommodate larger carriers, carriers should still do their best to meet the AMPS requirements, Bowen advised.

“The ideal situation, of course, would be not to have AMPS at all, but that’s not going to happen.”


OTTAWA, Ont. Locations and dates have been set for the six month AMPS review announced by Canadian Customs in May.

The review of the Administrative Monetary Penalty Plan is intended to evaluate whether AMPS provides a level playing field for carriers, and to see whether the program actually contributes to compliance as intended.

Consultations began in May and AMPS division teams will be conducting review sessions open to the public at the following locations: Lord Elgin Hotel, Ottawa (June 12); Holiday Inn Select, Windsor (June 16); The Delta Halifax, Halifax (June 16); Delta Centre Ville, Montreal (June 17); Radisson Hotel Winnipeg Downtown, Winnipeg (June 17); Hilton Toronto Airport, Mississauga (June 18); Delta Calgary Airport, Calgary (June 18); Vancouver Airport Marriott, Vancouver (June 19). The Fort Erie meeting, originally scheduled for June 19, has been delayed. All meetings will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Persons who’d like to make comments can attend one of the sessions or respond in writing by answering questions on a Discussion Plan circulated by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. The document includes 17 questions on AMPS and its impact on the industry.

To get a copy of the questionnaire, write to Ken McCarthy, director, AMPS division, Customs Branch, 2nd floor, 171 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0L5 or click on the AMPS button on the Truck News Web site.

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