Hot and cold CSA a go

by John Curran

OTTAWA, Ont. – After several years of wrangling, Customs Self Assessment (CSA) kicked off on the morning of Dec. 3, at border crossings across the 49th parallel and it may be the first stop on the way to a common North American market.

The legislation enabling CSA to get rolling finally passed through Parliament in early November and while no one wants to admit it had a lot to do with New York City, the timing is hard to ignore.

The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency will now allow select fleets and drivers to zip painlessly across the border when entering Canada, and depending on the size of their operation, settle up the bill on an every-two-weeks or once-a-month basis. But to take part, an importer first needs to register, as do the fleets it wants to use and similarly the O/Os and drivers actually pulling those loads.

Colette Gentes-Hawn, a spokeswoman for both the program and department, insists fleets seeking new customers and truckers looking for a new job, would be able to point to CSA certification as a tangible benefit to selecting them for the job.

To get certified, she says registration forms are available by contacting your local Customs office.

“So far we have 11 importers registered,” she says, with 40 more applications being processed there are a significant number of very big importers involved.

Along with them, they’ve dragged 143 fleets and 17,654 truck drivers. To put that final number in perspective – it’s equal to about 15 per cent of Canada’s total trucker labor pool. So it is a sizeable chunk of the industry we’re talking about here, but how many of them are Canadian? After all, CSA is a Canadian initiative, funded by Canadian taxpayers. Are they also the ones reaping the rewards of this increased efficiency?

Canada Customs’ spokesperson Michel Proulx explains thus far 52 U.S. fleets and 7,061 U.S. truckers are inked to CSA. Once a professional driver is registered for CSA they are issued an ID card, to be scanned by a barcode reader at the international line.

“Drivers will need to re-register (either through their fleet or) with their local Customs office every two years,” says Proulx.

For Canadians heading into the U.S., however, an antiquated computer system has made similar initiatives impossible. In the wake of Sept. 11, however, the purse strings have loosened and the realization is there that North America has a problem.

As David Bradley, chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance has grown quite fond of saying, “There is no silver lining (to the recent events of the world). Notwithstanding, I still am optimistic in the long-term we will resolve some of the long-standing issues we’ve had at the border.”

There has to be some sort of pre-screening where those carriers and drivers who meet whatever the preset criteria happen to be, are able to operate more freely across the border, he insists.

“Obviously we have to wait and see what happens with CSA now.” –

‘Who do I call about a job in the Territories?’

By John Curran

with files from James Menzies

YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. – Last month, Truck News ran a story on Pat Patmore and his experiences working the winter roads of the north and we were swamped with calls all asking the same thing, “Where do I sign up?”

As with standard over-the-road trucking, there is no one, master list for jobs on the ice roads, so we took it upon ourselves to find out where a large number of the opportunities exist in and around the Arctic Circle.

What we found is the largest trucking and construction company in the N.W.T., RTL Robinson Enterprises (RTL). It’s unarguably one of the lead dogs moving freight on Canada’s ice roads.

The company moves freight from all points in North America to mining clients and smaller communities throughout the territories. For example, in 1997 approximately 107.5 million litres of fuel and 45.9 million kilograms of freight were hauled on the highways and winter roads in the N.W.T. by RTL units.

“Last year we did the lion’s share of the hauling on the winter roads,” says Janet Robinson, of RTL. “We needed way more drivers than existed in the world last year.”

Even though last year’s level of activity was more of an exception than the rule and this year’s requirements have yet to be posted, the company indicates it will hire up to 450 seasonal workers in any given year.

RTL frequently has positions available for dispatchers, expediters, mechanics, equipment operators, truck drivers, owner/ops – even camp cooks. Wannabe company drivers are asked to call the main office in Yellowknife, 867-873-6271, while owner/operators should go though the Edmonton branch office, 780-447-3300.

If you have your resume in an electronic format, you can e-mail it to If you wish to fax your resume, send it to 867-920-4378 – make sure to clearly state which job you are applying to get.

An online job bulletin board is expected soon at

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