OTTAWA, Ont. - The Lunchbag Letdown Campaign, a joint effort from the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the Owner/Operators' Business Association of Canada (OBAC), and Teamsters Canada, has already ga...
OTTAWA, Ont. – The Lunchbag Letdown Campaign, a joint effort from the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the Owner/Operators’ Business Association of Canada (OBAC), and Teamsters Canada, has already garnered a sizeable response from the trucking industry, according to a representative from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office. The campaign, which got underway Jan. 2, has prompted about 4,000 postcard responses from members of the trucking industry, though the spokesperson noted that an exact count was difficult at this stage.
The three groups have been lobbying to restore the meal deduction limit for truckers to 80%. In 1994, the federal government reduced the meal tax deduction limit from 80% to 50%, following in the footsteps of its American counterparts.
As part of the Lunchbag Letdown Campaign, the three lobby groups have been distributing postcards at truck stops, through driver pay packages and at industry events. Drivers have been encouraged to fill out the postcards and mail them to Minister Flaherty.
According to the CTA, more than 200,000 postcards have been printed and are being distributed by the provincial trucking associations directly to their members. The trade press, including Truck News, has also been participating by inserting the postcards into magazines and posting them online. Truck stops are also making the postcards available to drivers who stop in for meals. Joanne Ritchie, executive director of OBAC, along with her members have been dropping cards off at truck stops. Teamsters Canada has reported that it has been distributing cards to its members as well.
Ritchie says the response from drivers on the road has been fantastic so far, with many drivers asking for handfuls of postcards to distribute to family, friends and co-workers.
“There is also a heightening of awareness among drivers that they do have a way to communicate with an elected official, there’s a proper way and it does make a difference,” she tells Truck News.
She says the truck stop managers have been very aware of the truckers’ plight on this issue and have been very supportive of the campaign.
“They’ve seen a considerable drop-off in the amount of truckers staying in the truck stops and what they eat,” Ritchie says.
Ritchie is optimistic about how the campaign will be received by government, but says the odds of the campaign being mentioned in the upcoming federal budget is low, simply because the new budget will be announced before officials have had a proper chance to review the issue.
“But we’re not going to end the campaign if it doesn’t happen to be put in the budget,” Ritchie says.
With an election on the horizon, the lobby groups are looking to make the Lunchbag campaign a key issue for the trucking industry.
“It’s early days (of the campaign) and we’re hoping that this kind of pressure will eventually wear the government down and they’ll get to see the light,” says Doug Switzer, manager, government relations, Ontario Trucking Association.
“With a new government, there may be new people listening. We couldn’t get past any former government. We’ve been after this for years,” Ritchie says.
For drivers interested in joining the campaign, visit the “Knowledge Centres” section at www.trucknews.com.