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Editorial Comment: Is harmonization just a pipe dream in Canada?

From coast-to-coast you hear trucking industry officials appeal for harmonization of weights and dimensions and other regulations. It would seem a simple process - there's always some middle ground to...


From coast-to-coast you hear trucking industry officials appeal for harmonization of weights and dimensions and other regulations. It would seem a simple process – there’s always some middle ground to be found when stakeholders are willing to give up a little bit.

One area that really does require harmonization is the Hours-of-Service regulations but alas, it appears not all jurisdictions will adopt the new federal rules coming into effect in January, 2007.

Alberta, which has been accused on more than one occasion of, shall we say, having a mind of its own (and God Love’em for it!) has jabbed a stick into the spokes of the federal Hours-of-Service wheels. And the wheels were already well in motion.

The federal rules are the result of nearly 20 years of research and haggling between industry, government, drivers and unions. Finally, it appeared the feds had reached that golden middle ground – and came up with a regime that everyone could live with.

With just weeks left before the new rules were to take effect, Alberta announced it would not enforce the new rules for provincially-regulated carriers – not in January, at least.

“To ensure proposed changes to Alberta’s commercial hours of service regulations meet the need to manage driver fatigue and the operational needs of operators, additional consultation with industry is necessary,” said Transport Minister, Ty Lund, much to the shock of the industry.

Here we go again!

Like we needed more confusion thrown into the mix, as drivers struggle to come to terms with the impending rules and get their heads around a fairly complicated set of regulations. Just days before the announcement was made, the province was hosting information sessions to ensure Alberta carriers and drivers knew how the new rules would impact them!

Reaction from the industry has been swift – and reproachful.

“The recently announced decision to isolate this province with unique, non-standard Hours-of-Service regulations, has placed Alberta businesses in the difficult situation of having to deal with two very different sets of rules for provincially and federally regulated carriers and has created a distinct disadvantage for federally regulated carriers in Alberta to compete in their operations within the province,” said Alberta Motor Transport Association president, Henry VanSteenbergen.

Hopefully, the province’s decision to postpone implementation of the new federal regs will merely be a bump in the road – and not an all-out detour in a different direction. There was plenty of time for the province to provide input into the development of the new Hours-of-Service rules. The time to do so was then, not a few weeks before their roll-out.

When it comes to harmonization, even when we at first appear to get it right, we manage to mess it up in the end.

James Menzies can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6896 or by e-mail at jmenzies@trucknews.com.


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