Industry Issues: Still Too Early for MVTA Proclamation
July 1, 2004
In January 2001, when Bill S-3, amending the Motor Vehicle Transport Act (MVTA) 1987 was introduced in the Senate, then Minister of Transport, David Collenette, stated: "These amendments establish carrier safety as the primary focus of the federal...
In January 2001, when Bill S-3, amending the Motor Vehicle Transport Act (MVTA) 1987 was introduced in the Senate, then Minister of Transport, David Collenette, stated: “These amendments establish carrier safety as the primary focus of the federal regulation of motor carriers, and create the tools for ensuring national consistency in safety performance regulation.”
The development of a national carrier safety ratings system began in earnest under the auspices of the CCMTA in 1994. From the outset, progress was impeded by the fact that not one of the 15 so-called National Safety Code standards had been uniformly adopted and/or enforced across the country – a situation that persists to this day.
In August 2000, Transport Canada released an independent consultant’s report dealing with the state of readiness of the safety ratings standard and, in particular, the degree of consistency among the various provincial ratings systems. In language not often seen in reports to government, the consultant decried the over-arching lack of consistency and the will of the jurisdictions to address the problems. The consultant concluded that the differences between the most stringent and the most lenient safety ratings systems could be measured by a factor of 10.
It was rightly decided then that proclamation of the new MVTA should not occur until such a time as consistency of safety ratings – i.e. that two carriers with similar safety performances based in different provinces would each have the same rating – is achieved. One of the hopes of the proponents of safety ratings is that shippers will use them in making decisions on which trucking companies to contract with.
But we cannot tolerate a situation where two carriers with identical compliance performance are competing for the same shipper’s business but one of the carriers has a conditional rating and one has a satisfactory rating, all because the systems employed by their base provinces are not consistent.
Moreover, how will U.S. carriers operating into Canada and Canadian carriers hauling into the U.S. be dealt with? Will the U.S. grant reciprocity to a hodge-podge of different and inconsistent systems?
Transport Canada recently indicated its intention to proclaim the new MVTA in January 2005. Presumably this means all the various provincial systems have been reviewed and tested and national ratings have been consistent. So, do we have consistency?
There are five components of a national carrier safety ratings system:
1. The commercial vehicles to be included;
2. The information that is included in any determination of a carrier’s performance;
3. The level of enforcement that produces information;
4. The effectiveness of the data interchange between jurisdictions;
5. The actual methodology used to determine a carrier’s safety performance.
For there to be a nationally consistent safety ratings standard, there must be consistency among the jurisdictions in these five areas.
CTA and the provincial associations have never suggested that safety rating systems need to be identical from one jurisdiction to the next, but they must be sufficiently consistent to produce identical ratings for identical safety performance. It is our contention that there is little consistency of safety ratings across the jurisdictions. As a result, the new MVTA should not be proclaimed until consistency of carrier safety ratings is achieved across the country and this is verified by an independent third-party assessment.
To do so would be an abrogation of the governments’ commitment to the industry, to safety and to fair competition. The industry has every right to expect and to demand precision, when one considers that safety ratings are to be made public in the expressed hope that they will be used by shippers, insurers and other stakeholders in making business decisions.
We cannot accept a disjointed series of regional profile systems that will only serve to produce ratings that have little real meaning and send the wrong signals to the trucking marketplace. At the time of writing, the CCMTA had just announced that a project group would be struck to develop the terms of reference for an independent assessment of the current degree of consistency amongst the various provincial/territorial systems. We will be at the table. This is a good first step. Carriers should not have to settle for “the best we can do” when business and safety are on the line.
– David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.