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Renewing the rallying cry to Canada’s O/Os

TORONTO, Ont. - The National Truckers Alliance of Canada (NTAC) says regional priorities took a back seat at the owner/operator group's inaugural meeting held in Toronto at the end of March."Now we ha...


TORONTO, Ont. – The National Truckers Alliance of Canada (NTAC) says regional priorities took a back seat at the owner/operator group’s inaugural meeting held in Toronto at the end of March.

“Now we have something the government recognizes,” says Bill Wellman, president of Oshawa, Ont.-based National Truckers Association (NTA).

The three-day meeting, convened by the NTA, discussed a range of issues spanning from driver safety and the economics of the industry to O/O concerns about quality-of-life issues.

The top priority however was formulating a strategy for getting truck driver issues onto the agendas of all levels of government.

Former Mackie Moving Systems executive Phil Megher organized the meeting on behalf of Transport Canada.

“The government would be willing to work with a large group,” explains Wellman, who is also spokesman for NTAC. “I think everyone’s saying, ‘It’s been a long time coming, and you’re getting your act together, so we’ll work with you.'”

Attendees to the meeting included representatives from Ancaster, Ont.-based Com-Car Owner Operators Association; Kamloops, B.C.-based B.C. National Association of Professional Drivers; the Newfoundland & Labrador Independent Truckers Association; and the Nova Scotia-based Eastern Truckers Alliance.

The NTAC is pressing the federal government for $400,000 to fund, or as Wellman explains, “support,” the start-up costs for the group. Additional operating revenues would come from membership dues.

As of mid-April, the group hadn’t received any government money; a fact that failed to worry Wellman.

“As NTAC, (we) shouldn’t be dependent on anyone for anything money-wise,” he explains. “But it would be nice to have funding to get things started.”

NTAC would have provincial councils – both existing and in some cases new O/O associations – in turn reporting their concerns to the national body of provincially appointed representatives. It is through those provincial groups that the operations of the national board would be funded, according to Wellman.

“The reason we’re involved with NTAC is I believe that national unity throughout Canada is of primary importance. We need to form alliances from Vancouver Island to St. John’s, Nfld.,” says Darren Liebrecht, the Kamloops O/O who spearheaded the western-most group to attend the March NTAC meeting.

“We need to promote this industry and turn it back into a profitable profession like that of 1970 … (Then) we were paying roughly 20 cents a gallon for diesel and we were getting 38 cents a mile,” he says. He complains that nowadays, truckers are paid 200 per cent less than the price of a gallon of diesel.

“This industry has fallen apart,” he charges. n


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