Should governments be allowed to balance the budget by milking industry?

by Brandi Cramer

TRURO HEIGHTS, N.S. – Recently the Nova Scotia government released, what they call, “a balanced budget.”

Of course changes to fees totaling $17.8 million have helped along the way when trying to reach this goal. Unfortunately for the Nova Scotia trucking community, these have come in the form of higher driver’s licence fees, commercial and regular vehicle registrations, audit fees, and a new commercial carrier registration fee. The total is somewhere around $8.5 million when you include a handful of increases impacting four-wheelers as well.

Truck News visited the Irving Truck Stop in Truro Heights, N.S., to see if commercial drivers think it’s OK for the powers that be to ride the backs of the trucking industry to create such balances.

Truro resident Udo Weber says the government can balance the budget in many other ways rather than targeting truckers. Weber was returning from hauling a load of general freight to Toronto and stopped in at the truck stop to fuel up. “We’ve got it bad enough out here,” says the Midland driver. “These are like travelling sweat shops,” he says, referring to his 2000 Freightliner.

O/O Robert McCully who drives for Connors Transfer Ltd. also took time to answer the question at hand.

“I don’t expect them to balance the budget. They should do other things if they have to,” says the Truro native who was just starting his shift hauling a reefer with his 1998 Freightliner Century Class.

“In the end the budget will only be balanced for a day. The government shouldn’t make people suffer because of it.”

St John’s, Nfld. native Terry Halliday echoed the same concerns of his counterparts.

“O/Os have a hard enough time as it is,” he says. Halliday, who hauls furniture for Household Movers and Shippers (an agent of North American Van Lines) out of his hometown says anybody who is driving truck in Nova Scotia is having a hard time.

“I heard of one guy who made a delivery to Calgary for $1,300. What is he going to get out of that?” asks Halliday, who drives a 1998 International Eagle.

Sydney, Nova Scotia native Avery Boudreau was on his way to Halifax from St. Stephen, N.B. when he spoke with Truck News.

“If they want to balance the budget on our backs, they should jack up the rates,” says the driver of a 1998 Freightliner Classic. “It’s hard enough to make a living out here now.”

O/O Victor Strong of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley says drivers are already paying enough taxes and should be given a break.

“They should stop giving their own members of parliament raises and put that money towards the budget,” he says. n

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