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Viewpoint: Let’s ‘collaborate.’ We’ve got time!

I've got to hand it to Ty Lund, Alberta's minister of infrastructure and transportation, for his decision to back away from having his province mirror the new federal Hours-of-Service rules due out at...


Lou Smyrlis, Editorial Director

Lou Smyrlis, Editorial Director


I’ve got to hand it to Ty Lund, Alberta’s minister of infrastructure and transportation, for his decision to back away from having his province mirror the new federal Hours-of-Service rules due out at the start of the New Year.

What sense of drama Lund had waiting till almost the last hour to scuttle Ottawa’s plan for legislative uniformity across the country. What moxie he showed snubbing the big bad overlords from Ottawa.

And what a load of nonsense!

Thanks to Lund’s last-minute change of mind, two different sets of rules will govern Hours-of-Service in Alberta. Carriers with trucks (even just one truck) that operate outside of their base province will be legislated by the federal rules. Carriers that operate solely within the confines of their base-province will be able to run on the old rules, until Alberta decides what it wants to do.

Lund is doing it all for the good of truckers, of course. The proposed changes have to “meet the need to manage driver fatigue and the operational needs of operators” and so “additional consultation” with the industry was deemed necessary. Now, maybe it’s just me being a journalist and getting all hung up on deadlines, but couldn’t Lund and the good folks at Alberta’s ministry of infrastructure and transportation have figured this all out a few months ago?

After all, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) began studying the effects of driver fatigue in relation to accidents more than a decade ago. Then it began a consultative process that ran for years and included a wide range of stakeholders from industry, labour, government, scientific experts, government and enforcement to develop the new Hours-of-Service regulations. The new regulations were published in the Canada Gazette two years ago, with an implementation date of Jan. 1, 2007 with each province and territory expected to adopt the same set of regulations as the federal rules, creating one harmonized rule across the country.

Ten years of consultation, collaboration and study and at the last minute more consultation, collaboration and study are needed?

Well, Alberta does “encourage a collaborative approach to developing government policy and regulations” according to Lund’s own statement.

Hmmm. I guess I would have an easier time swallowing Lund’s sensitivity about “collaboration” if he hadn’t forgotten to “collaborate” on his 12th-hour plan with the Alberta Motor Transport Association. The AMTA was caught completely by surprise by the move.

Now, perhaps I’m being too hard on Lund. After all, we’ve just found out there may be as many as five jurisdictions that can’t meet the start-of-the-year provincial deadline due to the timing of legislature sessions and changes in provincial government.

Not to worry says Roger Clarke, chair of compliance and regulatory affairs with the CCMTA. You see this provincial legislative insurrection has been taken into account. It’s all well in hand. You won’t see an unlevel legislative playing field come 2007. With a six-month transitional or “soft” educational period planned by the feds, the provinces still have time to get their regulations in place. In fact, Clarke is sure “by six months all the provinces will have the regulations in place.”

Hmmm. I hope he’s right. But I’m not holding my breath.

And as Bob Dolyniuk, general manager of the Manitoba Trucking Association, points out: With old rules, new rules, soft enforcement rules, will anybody be able to enforce anything?

Why don’t we “collaborate” further on that.

– Lou Smyrlis can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6881 or by e-mail at lou@TransportationMedia.ca.


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