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Trucking drives economy: Clark

MISSISAUGA, Ont. - Speaking at the Private Motor Truck Council's annual conference in west-end Toronto, Ontario's Minister of Transportation Brad Clark, emphasized the importance of trucking in Ontari...

MISSISAUGA, Ont. – Speaking at the Private Motor Truck Council’s annual conference in west-end Toronto, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Brad Clark, emphasized the importance of trucking in Ontario’s economy.

He insists the provincial government is continuing to work to facilitate trucking’s role.

“The provincial government understands trucking’s importance to Ontario’s economy. Trucking has been driving Ontario’s economy, carrying one trillion dollars worth of goods. Projections indicate this will double in the next 25 years,” says Clark.

He adds the Ontario government is committed to moving forward on speedier clearance for trucks at the border while also maintaining safety standards, which Clark says are the highest in Canada. He says Ontario’s highways this year will approach 93 per cent optimal state of repair.

Since 1995, he says some $6.5 billion has been spent on highways in the province. In 2001 along, the total will reach $1 billion. Of that, only two per cent was federally funded.

“Ask your MPs where the gas tax is going, because it’s not going back into infrastructure,” he says.

Clark also critiqued the opposition on its position about border issues in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

“The opposition has now ‘woken up’ to the issue of trade at the border. I find it fascinating that they now see it as an issue,” he slams. “Our government remains committed to eliminating bottlenecks at the border, but without jeopardizing security. We are also proceeding with plans for a new highway corridor from the New York border through the Niagara region, as well as looking at a feasibility study for a new gateway crossing.”

Clark also stressed the importance of harmonization in highway policy between Canada’s provincial and federal governments, especially with respect to duplication of processes.

Clark says the government is continuing to work at implementing the guidelines set through Target ’97 to improve truck safety in the province.

“We’re looking at tougher road tests, driver improvement programs. And, the Ministry will implement a standardization process for both commercial vehicles and automobiles. Hours-of-Service must be flexible enough to meet both the needs of business and also road safety.

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