ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. - The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) both held their annual general meetings in St. John's Nfld., just prior to the Atlant...
HR TALKS: Linda Gauthier talks about this year's CTHRC projects.Photo by Katy de Vries
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) both held their annual general meetings in St. John’s Nfld., just prior to the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association’s 53rd Annual Convention also held there in late October.
Both groups were welcomed by the APTA with open arms.
“A big thanks goes out to the CTA and the CTHRC for agreeing to hold their events just prior to the APTA event. A number of people stayed on for the convention and those who did told me they enjoyed themselves immensely,” said Ralph Boyd, APTA president.
Kevin Philpott, convention chairman and president of U-Can Universal, was also pleased.
“That is really something to have these organizations join us in St. John’s for our convention,” said Philpott. “It is a great opportunity to show the rest of Canada what a great association we have on the East Coast.”
CTA CEO David Bradley addressed the entire convention contingent with an update of the recent CTA board meeting (held in St. John’s) and the issues the association has addressed to date this year.
Issues that drew the most attention were new Hours of Service regulations, and whether a sleeper berth provision, like that included in the U.S. regulations, will be included in the Canadian version.
“We want to encourage everybody to get out there and let their local governments know where we stand because we need to get to the federal Transport Minister, David Collenette,” said Bradley. “We are in as good of shape as we can be right now with this issue but the CTA Board of Directors will continue to deal with this.”
CTA chairman Evan MacKinnon, said Canada needs to put forth one position in order to move ahead with the HOS issue.
“We are pretty confident that we will get the sleeper berth provision and it is important to Canada that we do, in light of what has happened with the U.S. HOS regulations,” MacKinnon said.
Another topic of conversation at the CTA board meeting, according to Bradley, was that of a new Canadian National Highway Trust Fund.
Canada is the only country that doesn’t have a highway fund, said Bradley, adding the proposed fund would be set up in a way that would allow the transportation industry to have some say in where fuel tax money is spent.
MacKinnon added the CTA is currently working on bringing the provincial and federal governments on side.
“We have done quite a large report looking at all aspects of the trucking industry and we would hopefully have all segments of transportation involved with this. It is a ten-year proposal, where there would be a combination of funding from the federal government and the transportation industry. This would in turn allow us some input as far as where the money is spent and the ability to encourage the government to put it into Canada’s infrastructure,” MacKinnon said.
The formation of a Transportation Optimization Pact (TOP) was also discussed at the CTA board meeting, according to MacKinnon. He explained TOP would consist of a council made up of all segments of transportation providers, including truck, rail, sea, and air, that would promote working together as a transportation industry as a whole.
“It would be for specific issues where we have shared concerns, certain regulations for example, and the ultimate goal is to not just benefit the Canadian transportation industry but the Canadian economy,” said MacKinnon. “Canadians need to know how important the economy is, especially the transportation sector and the trade relationship with the U.S.”
Border issues were another hot topic for the CTA, Bradley added.
“Everybody is paranoid now because of 9/11, and if we can’t automate our borders, we can certainly make them more efficient,” said Bradley.
Business needs to keep flowing into Canada, said Bradley, during his speech to convention delegates. He encouraged all jurisdictions to comply with the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program.
“The question is how should we push for more harmonization with the U.S.? I think we’ll see this issue come to the fore in the next few months,” said Bradley.
Bradley also talked about the feds’ plan to legalize marijuana and what that means for the industry.
“There need to be rules to go along with it, there are rules governing alcohol consumption and tests for impairment so we want to bring forward the idea that there has to be a way of policing this,” he said.
Insurance rates were also a major issue addressed by the CTA board, said Bradley.
He suggested the rates may level off, but it will never go back to the way it used to be.
“There isn’t one big solution to this problem, this is a tricky one. We all live and die by the market and we have to realize we are all facing cost increases, so we have to pull together as an industry.”
Bradley suggested the shipper might just end up having to pay more. And though he didn’t think there was any hope of more competition entering the insurance business, he was positive about the upcoming year.
“I feel good about 2004, the U.S. economy is coming back and these are all cyclical in nature, and the CTA wants to cut interest rates so we will keep plugging away with anyone who will listen,” Bradley said.
CTHRC managing director Linda Gauthier also spoke to APTA delegates about the CTHRC board meeting held in St. John’s. She described several of the association’s projects, including a trucking research project currently underway.
The CTHRC recently applied to HRDC for funding to assist the council in developing a framework to build acceptance of the trucking industry as a viable employer offering rewarding careers, said Gauthier.
“This career strategy will help attract people to the industry, so in order to identify the strategy, we took a look at what’s been done so far and took a sort of inventory on the industry. We then thought we’d do a sort of feasibility study of what the industry needs and come up with a list of recommendations, which we hope to have finalized by March and that will be the basis for the funding from HRDC,” said Gauthier.
The CTHRC wants to facilitate the placement of new workers in the industry, by encouraging the hiring of post-secondary candidates that have not had an opportunity to work in the sector. Employers will be eligible for wage subsidies.
Four of five phases of the trucking research project are already completed.
Research papers on government assistance programs and training school inventory and requirements are both completed and available on the CTHRC Web site at www.cthrc.com.
Research on unemployed drivers and Canadian commercial driver licensing should be available on the Web site this month, Gauthier said.
The fifth research paper, on turnover, shortage and expected demand, has been completed and will be reviewed by the steering committee before being released; it should also be available soon.
A sixth report, also due out soon, will link research data and summarize the implications of findings, Gauthier said.