Quebec truckers tickled with government’s work

by Carroll McCormick

MONTREAL, Que. – A new rig and a good route work wonders for a trucker’s mood, or at least that’s the key to happiness in Quebec.

Sylvain Pepin has been an owner/operator for about a year now but has some 20 years driving under his belt. Based in Beloeil, he drives an immaculate 2001 Mack hauling sand and gravel for 10 months a year. He thinks the government is doing a lot of things right.

On increased vigilance on truck maintenance since the adoption of Law 430, he says, “There are a lot of wheelbarrows on the road. I think that everyone should be under the Preventative Maintenance Program,” as he taps his PEP stickers on his side window.

At roadside inspections he says, because he is in the PEP program, he never has to wait through inspections.

“The Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) just takes my PEP number, goes to the garage and checks my files,” he explains.

He has noticed fewer older trucks on the road these days.

“There has been a lot of improvement. A lot.” As for highway blitzes, he says, “They have good judgement. If your truck is clean you will have no problem.”

He does, however, have one beef about the SAAQ: “In bulk hauling it is hard to distribute the loads. There should be more tolerance at the scales.”

On minimum salaries, a key union demand of the government for several years, he says, “It is not necessary, because there has been a shortage of truckers for 10 years. The majority of Class 1 truckers are between 50 and 65 years of age. In the next four or five years the salaries of truckers will go up.”

As for Transports Quebec, he says, “They have informed themselves a lot about the needs of truckers.”

And, he adds, “The highways are improving steadily.”

Stephane Breton drives a 1999 International Eagle for Transport Benoit Beauregard in St-Rose and hauls dirt, sand and gravel. He has been a trucker for five years, and he loves his job. He also favors government legislating ways to improve maintenance.

“It is good to get the old trucks off the road,” he says.

Working locally, he always has enough hours to get home, but adds, ” The hours of work are reasonable.”

He is relatively pleased with the highway repairs that Transports Quebec has been doing.

Some favorites: “The repairs to the A-30 will make it less bumpy. The third lane on the A-20 before the Lafontaine Tunnel helps out a lot. On the A-40 they are putting in a lot of cement highway. I find that great.”

He also has a beef with how the government announces reduced weight maximums for the spring thaws.

“This is not well-publicized; for example, I learn about it from the television or from where I load up. The government could send a letter to each business and the drivers could get the dates from the boss.”

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