Reflections and foresight

by Derek Clouthier

LANGLEY, B.C. — Another year has nearly come and gone, and 2018 had its fair share of news that shaped the industry in one way or another.

Whether it was how Canadian carriers were adjusting to the ELD mandate south of the border, what steps the industry is taking to address the need for more drivers, or the push for mandatory entry-level driver training in the aftermath of the Humboldt tragedy, the industry had a lot on its plate in 2018, and will continue to in the coming year.

Truck West spoke to each of the western associations to see what they thought was their most significant achievement this past year, and what they could foresee as being the biggest challenge of 2019.

British Columbia
For the British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA), 2018 was all about making life for their members a little bit easier when it came to government red tape.

Shelley McGuinness, communications specialist with the BCTA, highlighted several wins for the association and its members on this front, including a strategy for one carrier for dealing with HOS restrictions exacerbated by delays from a long-term construction project in one region. Another was for the recall of a PST bulletin for aggregate haulers that required businesses selling and delivering product to tax deliveries, where the same was not required for third-party transporters.

The BCTA was able to reverse permit fees incorrectly applied to heavy-haul carries. They also helped unblock delayed permit approvals and assist with reservations for over-dimensional vehicles on B.C. ferries, which McGuinness said was causing headaches due to long wait times.

“These are a few brief highlights, but overall, BCTA saved approximately $3.54 million through policy and advocacy ‘wins’ and other types of assistance for our members and the industry this year,” said McGuinness. “We put time into industry-wide issues and those are important, but what our members also need is practical help with a single problem that is costing them too much time and money.”

As for 2019, McGuinness said it’s difficult to predict what can happen in the future, but does see one common industry-wide concern being an issue in
her province.

“The driver shortage continues to be a top challenge, largely because there isn’t one clear, convenient solution,” she said. “Helping members to address their HR issues remains a goal for our association.”

The revelation that the carrier involved in the Humboldt Broncos team bus collision in Saskatchewan last April was a Calgary-based company led to a major push for the implementation of a MELT program in the province.

The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) has been advocating for MELT for some time, so it was not a new effort for the association. But with the extensive media coverage and resulting public perception following the collision, it did not take long for the Alberta government to move on mandatory training.

“The AMTA has long recognized the need for a mandatory entry-level training standard for commercial carriers and drivers to operate on the province’s roadways,” said Chris Nash, president of the AMTA. “For more than a decade, AMTA worked toward this goal by developing a curriculum to promote a professional driving career, consulting commercial carriers and stakeholders across sectors, and lobbying.”

Prior to the April 6 collision, the AMTA had developed a MELT working group with government and industry stakeholders to address issues around the province’s driver training model.

Out of the tragedy, which killed 16 and injured 13, came government action on MELT.

“This tragedy became the catalyst for taking a hard look at the commercial transportation industry and the need for change,” said Nash. “After review of the incident, Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason and industry delegates met at the AMTA facility on July 10 to announce that government was consulting on MELT, pre-entry requirements for new commercial carriers, and modifying the road test model for all drivers’ licence classes.”

The government later announced on Oct. 10 that it would implement a MELT program for Class 1 and 2 drivers starting March 1, 2019.

“The implementation of MELT will ensure the industry has the fundamental tools to operate on public roadways by establishing a benchmark of required knowledge for commercial carriers and drivers,” said Nash.

For the coming year, Nash concurred with his neighbors to the west, seeing a driver shortage causing issues in his province.

The average age of a Canadian truck driver is now 47 years old and is expected to be 49 by 2024. In the U.S., truck drivers have an average age of 55.

“The AMTA is working with industry partners to address recruitment and retention issues by creating pathways to attract a younger workforce and underrepresented groups, introducing new technologies, and improving the driver experience,” said Nash. “We need to look at our company cultures by way of inclusion and diversity. If we continue to operate as we have in the past with recruitment and retention practices, the driver shortagewill continue.”

For Susan Ewart, executive director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA), the biggest success by far was the association’s Policy Stakeholder Reception, which was held in Regina May 10.

“Today, the STA is more relevant than it has ever been and it was very evident that evening from the membership and political stakeholders who attended,” said Ewart. “Premier Scott Moe was in attendance and addressed our membership to discuss the important role that trucking plays in the province. The event was one of the most successful we have held in recent history and confirmed the STA’s role as the voice of truck transport for Saskatchewan.”

Ewart sees the industry’s image being the most significant challenge going forward – a topic discussed during the STA’s annual AGM during a panel moderated by Truck West.

“From what we heard at our AGM from our members, we have a lot of work to do,” said Ewart. “Partnerships with organizations like Trucking HR Canada are a great start, and each of the provincial associations should be using the resources that are available to them through Trucking HR Canada.”

The Manitoba Trucking Association’s (MTA) membership base grew significantly in 2018.

MTA executive director Terry Shaw said though this is not the association’s primary goal, “it does speak to the MTA’s perception amongst our industry members right now.”
Shaw said his association will continue to work hard to provide value for all its members.

But 2019 could pose a few challenges for the MTA. As Shaw pointed out, several advocacy items are not as far along as the association believes they should be in Manitoba.

“E-screening, MELT, ELD mandate, a new carrier profile system, wide-base tires, and a trucking efficiency program (GrEEn Trucking program) are all items that we frankly expected to see better progress on,” said Shaw. We need to circle back on our advocacy efforts with the government and work to see greater progress on a number of these

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