Whatever your beliefs, membership in a like-minded group has its benefits

by Bruce Richards

I don’t suppose for a moment that there are many people in the trucking community who could hazard an accurate guess as to how many years trucking associations in Canada have been serving their members.

I’ll save the answer for a bit and let you think about it. And while you are considering your answer, consider also what it is that these associations do for you, the broader industry, and Canadians.

Yes I mean you, whether or not you are a member of the PMTC, CTA, BCTA, AMTA, STA, MTA, OTA, QTA, APTA or OBAC.
If you are in this business, the collective work of these associations has affected the way you work, and has contributed to safer roads, better training, better equipment, better working conditions and an efficient and effective truck transportation system that keeps Canada on the move.

Sure, like most families, there are squabbles and disagreements among us. Not every driver, fleet operator, or supplier agrees with every regulatory change (see hours-of-service, EOBRs, speed limiters, and emissions controls as recent examples), and sometimes we feel that change takes far too long to implement. Other times we may feel that the powers that be just ‘got it wrong’ – whatever the subject.

But despite these differences of opinion, any reasonable assessment of the Canadian trucking industry would have to say it is efficient, safe, and serves Canadians well, while providing a very good living for many. That is in large part due to the work of the trucking associations.

Of course, industry associations do not accomplish all of this in isolation. Individual associations, along with carriers and suppliers, work hand-in-hand with a host of government ministries to implement changes or improvements and it’s fair to say that those in government have a lot to do with the progress we make.

Some of these changes take longer than we would like, but that is the process of working with jurisdictions that are free to govern their affairs independently.

It is also why we have forums for all of the jurisdictions to come together for frank discussions, with the goal of harmonized rules to govern the industry.

But that is just the external view of the impact of Canada’s trucking associations.

Within their respective memberships they each provide advice and counsel to their members.

The association offices are the source of information on just about everything related to the trucking industry, and what we don’t know, we can find out.

The associations also provide their own forums where participating members often discover that their specific problems are not unique. In PMTC’s case, we regularly find that issues being tackled by one member have already been addressed by another. And PMTC members are willing to share their experiences for everyone’s benefit.

But we are not naive in the association business. All is not harmony and goodwill, and opinions vary, as they say.
However, among association members there is more often a willingness to listen and perhaps try to understand a different opinion and that process ultimately shapes the policy direction the association takes on any given subject.

For those who are not members of associations, who attack change, who disagree with virtually everything that moves their lives in a different direction, who write scathing letters to the media, we think there is room for their opinions as well.

We just think that those views, constructively voiced within an association, would contribute to the way things work.

At the PMTC, we work jointly with many of the associations I mentioned above and I can tell you that they are staffed with knowledgeable, well-intentioned people, who truly have the interests of their members and the industry at heart.

So, if you are making your living in this fascinating world of trucking and have so far avoided joining and supporting the association that best represents your business, I encourage you to re-think that situation.

I’m not fully-versed on the fees that other associations charge, but I can reliably state that they are relatively inexpensive when you consider the benefits you can receive.

And by the way, the answer to the question is well over 500. How’s that for experience?

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