CTA urging Premiers to take action on interprovincial trade barriers in trucking

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OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance is urging Canada’s premiers to make progress on promises made more than six months ago that would strengthen domestic trade between provinces and territories by reducing barriers to trade flows. Last August, Canada’s premiers announced they would be working to harmonize transportation regulatory codes and eliminate those standards and regulations that are “unjustifiable” barriers to trade in the transportation sector. The Premiers instructed ministers responsible to do this work by July.

CTA initially welcomed the news, having long argued that since trucking is primarily regulated by the provinces, the industry is subject to a patchwork quilt of provincial regulations and standards. With the July deadline fast approaching, CTA is looking to see some progress and has written to the Council of the Federation (whose membership is made up of the provincial premiers).

At the same time, CTA recognizes there will be difficulties. For starters, the alliance is not sure whether the hodgepodge of trucking regulations meets governments’ definition of a “trade barrier,” and to that end, which ones will be deemed “unjustifiable.” Regardless CTA says that differences in regulations can create artificial competitive imbalances.

“Let me be clear, in some cases, differing regulations are appropriate given the different conditions that exist in each jurisdiction, and we would not suggest that harmonization is the right course in all cases and at all times,” said CTA CEO David Bradley in his letter to the council. “But certainly in other areas these differences do constitute barriers to fair competition and barriers to effective trade and in these cases harmonization is not only desirable it is essential.”

CTA says that the lack of harmonization in trucking regulations is most harmful in three key areas: the National Safety Code (NSC) for Trucks, truck weights and dimensions standards, and taxes on new tractors and trailers.

Bradley says he hopes there will be progress on modernizing some of the rules that govern the industry, but admits, “It will take the political commitment of the Premiers, the development of new models for consensus building and decision-making, and a re-energizing of existing ones.”

“We are under no illusions as to the difficulties associated with this task,” he says. “But we must move forward to ensure that Canada has the efficient, productive, reliable and predictable supply chain it needs to compete and win now and in the future.”

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