CTA: ‘Unless all the provinces are on side, the law means nothing.’

OTTAWA (March 29) — Revisions to the Motor Vehicle Transport Act introduced in the House of Commons last week would be meaningless without an effective national motor carrier safety rating system to base them on, said the leader of Canada’s predominant lobby group for the trucking industry.

Canadian Trucking Alliance chief executive officer David Bradley warned Ottawa not to water down standards for such a system so that each province may more readily comply.

“These proposed changes are predicated on the existence of a truly national safety ratings system, one that doesn’t require the lowering of the bar in order to get everyone on board,” Bradley said. “And given governments’ track record, the chances of that coming into existence any time soon are extremely dim.”

The federal and provincial governments have been trying to develop national consistency in safety performance regulation for more than five years. The bill introduced by federal Transport Minister David Collenette last Thursday would create a federal mandate for a provincially run, performance-based regulatory system based on National Safety Code (NSC) Standard 14.

While the bill does not specify an implementation date, an informal target is September 2000.

The amendments to the MVTA would allow provinces and territories whose safety compliance regimes are compatible with the NSC standard to give an extra-provincial carrier a safety rating and safety fitness certificate. A carrier would need such a certificate in order to travel outside of its home jurisdiction, so long as the carrier maintained a satisfactory, satisfactory-unaudited, or conditional rating.

The amendments would also allow a province or territory, under the authority of the Act, to sanction extra-provincial carriers for poor safety performance, including downgrading their ratings and revoking their safety fitness certificates and, thus, their right to operate.

“The federal government can pass whatever law it wants, but unless all the provinces are on side, the law means nothing,” countered Bradley.

Unless all provinces harmonize their methodologies to the point that carriers with equivalent safety performance receive the same ratings in different jurisdictions, the standard will become “just a disjointed series of provincial carrier profile systems,” he cautioned.

“The industry has had enough of half-measures that are designed for photo opportunities and political hay-making. If Ottawa were truly serious about creating a meaningful set of safety ratings standards, it would help pay for the efforts provinces are undertaking — some more effectively than others — to develop harmonized safety ratings methodologies,” Bradley said.

“Unless and until the federal government is prepared to exercise the authority that it has on this, and not just pass laws but actually put some money into the system, then really the MVTA will never be the effective and meaningful piece of legislation it is intended to be.”

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