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How successful will the “Lunchbag Letdown” campaign be?

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - Early this January, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Owner/Operators' Business Association of Canada, and Teamsters Canada announced they would be initiating a campaign to resto...






BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – Early this January, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Owner/Operators’ Business Association of Canada, and Teamsters Canada announced they would be initiating a campaign to restore the meal allowance for truck drivers back to 80%. Though originally intended to crack down on big-spending big business, truck drivers found themselves lumped into the mix when a 1994 federal budget clause dropped the amount they could claim for meal costs by 30%. The ‘End Canada’s Lunchbag Letdown Campaign’ encourages drivers to mail postcards to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in a bid to beef the meal allowance back up to 80% (for the full story see this month’s cover). Truck News stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to find out how successful drivers think the program will be and how it will affect their bottom line.

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Barry Thompson, a driver with Ranlyn Transport in Belleville, Ont., remembers when the allowance was dropped to 50% originally, but remains pessimistic as to whether the government will get things back on track.

“How successful (will the program be)? Probably not very,” said the 30-year veteran. “The government’s not being too generous to us anymore, but anything you can get is a bonus right now.”

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Pierre Hudon, a driver with Transport Belmire out of Montreal, Que., says it’s difficult to predict what Flaherty will decide and drivers will just have to wait and see. Though Hudon doesn’t pay much attention to what he spends on food (only adding up what he spends on meals at the end of each year) he knows that every little bit helps.

“(If the campaign was successful) and I’m spending maybe $25 a day (on food) I’d save maybe five dollars a day. But five dollars is still five dollars,” Hudon says.

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Paul Moss, a driver with Ayr Motor Express in Woodstock, N.B., says that it’s unfair that truckers are still stuck at 50%.

“We should get the same thing (as government officials),” says Moss, who spends about $40 a day in restaurants alone. “We’re paying their wages. If they can get it, why can’t we?” But based on past experiences, Moss guesses that the campaign will not be successful.

“When it comes to the government, they do whatever the hell the want. They always have. If they don’t feel that we should be entitled to it, then we ain’t gonna get it.”

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Reg MacLeod, a driver with Keltic Transportation in Moncton, N.B., says truckers might get an increase – but definitely not 80%.

“But always go for more than you want,” he says.

Many drivers who feel the bite of their food bills often must plead with their employers to help offset the cost, though unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out, MacLeod admits.

“(Employers) will come back with, ‘Well, get a different truck, get better fuel mileage,’ or ‘Take your groceries with you,’ but then you’ve got to buy groceries for two houses. There’s got to be a break in there somewhere. It would be nice if there was.”


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