HALIFAX, N. S. – By fall, Nova Scotia will ready to introduce efficiencies to the regulations governing its trucking sector.
The province solicited comments from truckers and associations this summer under the Nova Scotia Truck Regulatory Review, part of a government-wide Better Regulation Initiative to reduce by 20% the regulatory burden of legislation, regulations, policies and procedures by 2010. Burden is defined as “any legal requirement that creates an obligation for a driver or motor carrier to do something that creates a cost.”
Having to make a two-hour drive from Annapolis Royal to Halifax to get out-of-province plates is a burden, says Stephen Orde, owner of Orde’s Trucking and Excavating in Granville Ferry, and vice-chair of the Trucking Association of Nova Scotia (TANS). So is the requirement that when carriers want to obtain driver abstracts, employees must fetch their own abstracts for them from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR).
“The companies want abstracts to be more accessible to them, and to the insurance companies,” Orde says. “In our local area a worker may have to drive for an hour or two to get to an office. But if he is working, how is he to get it?”
The government sponsored a series of public consultation meetings in Coldbrook, Bridgewater, Yarmouth, Dartmouth, Truro, Antigonish and North Sydney in June, posted an online survey anyone could fill out, conducted internal interviews for ideas and hired a consultation company to orchestrate the whole process.
The government received a draft of the results of the hearings in early says Don Stonehouse, program manager, Weights and Dimensions Policy with TIR. “We will go through it to see what it says, and request clarifications. The final draft will be prepared in early September and sent to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.”
It is difficult to judge the enthusiasm of industry members for the exercise, which, for convenience, grouped regulations into four areas: getting started – application process; before you leave – planning a trip; on the road – complying with the rules; and back home – record-keeping requirements. Only about 75 people in all attended the seven public meetings, although TANS county representatives attended on behalf of their members. TIR also held one-on-one meetings with organizations such as TANS, the Forest Products Association and the Federation of Agriculture.
According to Stonehouse, the issues raised were generally service-related: getting permits; applying for licences; and duplication between record-keeping for the National Safety Code and other health and safety regulations.
Only four or five people filled out the online survey, which is rather curious in light of requests to make more processes available on the Internet.
“Some people are very computer literate and want Internet setup for registration. Some want to do everything on the Net,” Stonehouse notes.
“We are in favour of any ideas that create online reporting of information,” says Dave Miller, certified director of safety with Berwick-based Eassons Transport. Too, he adds that the industry would appreciate sharing of information between any government departments that will reduce duplicate reporting.
Wayne Onda, the executive director of TANS also expressed frustration with the road trips required to do some things, and even the ability of individual offices to handle clients.
“Vehicle registrations can be had here in Truro, but it is a BS setup. There are only four tellers and 40-50 people lined up at 7:30 a. m.,” he says.
For certain services, he adds, “Everyone has to rush to Halifax and there are line-ups again. I’ve never seen anything so foolish. People want more access and more offices throughout the province.”
Miller, for example, voices a desire to have “the ability to have access to commercial registrations at all Access Nova Scotia locations instead of restricting it to one location in Dartmouth.”
Onda also notes an example of how the burden has become heavier:”You used to be able to pick up oversize and overweight permits at weigh scales. Not anymore.”
Anyone who has ever done business at a Registry of Motor Vehicles in this province will nod knowingly at another Onda comment. “People have to drive all the way in from Sydney, and if they forget a piece of paper, they have to go home and get it.”
One might wish to blame such a frustration on the vehicle owner, but this frequent occurrence speaks loudly to the waste of effort and fuel chasing paper around the province in our age of Internet commerce. It will be interesting to see if the province will recognize travel time to get to Registries of Motor Vehicles and languishing in waiting rooms as the burdens they so obviously are, and take corrective action. There is no deadline for implementing any of the recommendations.