There are a few things that have come up recently that I would like to share with readers. First, a situation regarding an Ontario resident truck driver and health insurance coverage. This particular ...
There are a few things that have come up recently that I would like to share with readers. First, a situation regarding an Ontario resident truck driver and health insurance coverage. This particular driver is a long-haul operator, running the U.S. During the course of one of his regular trips, he took ill in the United States, requiring a lengthy hospital stay, along with heart surgery. He got one hell of a shock when informed by the folks at OHIP they would not cover the costs, as he does not meet the residency requirements. I had not heard this one before and looked for more information on the ministry’s Web site (www.gov.on.ca/MOH/english/pub/ohip/short) for more information. It reads:
To be eligible for OHIP coverage you must be a resident of Ontario. This means that you must: be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period and make your permanent and principal home in Ontario.
You must be able to provide the ministry with documents that show you meet these requirements. In other words, both of the above requirements must be met. It’s not an either/or situation. I did some preliminary checking on this, given the potentially serious ramifications for long-haul extra-provincial drivers, who, by virtue of their occupation are obviously out-of-province more than they are here. While I have not heard back from the people at OHIP seeking answers to a few specific questions I raised about truck drivers, I was directed to another information circular at their Web site dealing with longer absences from Ontario. It didn’t really offer any assurance that drivers are indeed covered.
It is noted in one of their fact sheets that: To be eligible for continuous OHIP eligibility during a longer absence, you must first have been physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period, for 2 consecutive years immediately before the absence.. To get approval for OHIP eligibility, it is required that you write or visit the ministry, showing a document explaining the reason for the extended absence. For work-related reasons, 5-year terms of extended eligibility can be given.
The part I don’t like is the bit about being present in Ontario for the 153-day period prior to the absence. It’s not clear to me how the long-term, long-haul driver would qualify. When I get the scoop from OHIP on how these types of situations are specifically dealt with I will report back in a future column. In the meantime, you will want to determine your drivers’ status.
I also had an interesting call from a carrier charged with “fail to maintain” their vehicle. The circumstances were not uncommon. The problem found during the course of a roadside inspection was brake adjustment. But what I found unusual was that the charge was laid on the basis of brake stroke measurement on the wheels of an axle that was in a lift position.
Now it appears to me there are two conflicting provisions of the Highway Traffic Act. The Act itself, among other things, defines an axle as transmitting weight to the roadway. In a lifted position, it is not an axle under the Act. On the other hand, under the Regulation pertaining to critical defects, the brake stroke on an axle in a lifted position forms part of the brake measurement.
In the matter I was apprised of, the unit was not found to have any critical defects. Yet the position of the officer may very well have been that he was conducting an inspection to determine if there were in fact any critical defects on the vehicle. Fair enough. But I can’t help but wonder what the case would be if the axle was in a lift position and there were no wheels on it whatsoever. I ask, and not facetiously, would this scenario constitute inoperative and therefore defective brakes? Would there be an improper tire charge perhaps?
Regulations are made pursuant to Legislation, in this case the Highway Traffic Act. And I expect in cases like these, that given the clear inconsistency of the definition in the Act versus the Critical Defect Regulation, that the defendant may be favored because of such. It’s certainly worth a shot, and if caught in a situation like this, use a legal argument known as “void for vagueness”. This principle is that “if a law cannot be understood by an individual of reasonable intelligence and command of the English language, or is written in such a way that it can be construed to have more than one meaning, then the law is “void for vagueness”. It would seem to me that the axle example fits this concept rather nicely.
Finally, I got into a bit of a “hearty discussion” with a retired enforcement officer recently over a beer. We are often in good natured disagreement and this was no different. He claimed that a driver must sign his daily log at the beginning of the day rather than the end. And of course I begged to differ, pointing out first that the regulation does not require such, only that it must be signed, and second that he might consider likening it to a cheque. Would he sign the cheque prior to filling in the amount? On the other hand, I guess you can attest to the accuracy of an otherwise nearly blank log.