TORONTO, Ont. – The federal election campaign is now officially underway, and party platforms are beginning to emerge.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is looking to add some trucking-specific topics into the mix with a wish list distributed to the leaders of Canada’s largest political parties – and it’s calling on more than 5,000 carrier members to add their individual voices.
Driver Inc., a tax-avoidance scheme that involves mis-classifying fleet employees as independent contractors, is the leading topic that the association wants to see emerge in the mandate letters that guide cabinet ministers in their jobs.
Rule-abiding industry employers are “under attack by fleets engaged in the tax scam,” said Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
Carbon pricing, often referred to a carbon tax, is also questioned.
“CTA has supported Environment Canada’s heavy truck regulations which have added billions in direct costs for the industry. The logic to adding a carbon charge on top of this is questionable,” it says, noting that longhaul trucking operations have limited options to change.
“Currently, there are very few wholly-viable and widely available alternatives to the diesel engine.”
The trucking industry is already being used as a backdrop in the fight. Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently used a visit to Challenger Motor Freight as the time to announce his province’s court challenge against the tax model.
The full list of election priorities largely draws from a recent Nanos Research survey of 32 industry executives and previous positions already established by the trucking industry’s largest lobby group. They include:
- A level playing field – Tackling Driver Inc. tops the list of steps needed to ensure there’s an even playing field for operations. “These drivers do not own, lease or operate a vehicle,” the position paper says. “Many of the companies and drivers involved in this scheme are knowingly avoiding many of their tax responsibilities, including paying the appropriate source deductions (CPP, EI, etc.) among other taxes. From the driver’s perspective, many are knowingly and unknowingly taking advantage of small business tax advantages not otherwise available to them.” Noting that most trucking companies are small businesses, the CTA has also asked for more guidance and support so they can be aware of new regulations and have the capacity to implement changes in a timely and effective manner.
- Reducing carbon emissions – Environment Canada believes heavy trucks will reduce their carbon emissions by 3 Megatons between 2018 and 2030, with the changes costing the trucking industry $4.1 billion. Including the Phase 1 emissions changes of 2014, the industry has reduced its carbon footprint by 6 megatons at a cost of $8.3 billion.If a carbon tax is to be in place, the alliance is asking for the revenue to be redistributed through the industry, supporting programs that incentivize the purchase of new and greener trucking equipment, or retrofitting equipment that is already on the road.
- Access to immigration channels – While the industry is increasing wages and better-marketing career opportunities, it needs more access to immigration programs to meet labor needs, the CTA says.
- Recognized employer status for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – Trucking HR Canada led a series of roundtables on Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program earlier this year. One of the key recommendations to emerge from that was the need for a “trusted employer” vetting process to expedite the related Labor Market impact Assessments.
- More access to programs that support better and effective training – Citing plans to introduce a national Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) standard for truck drivers, the CTA is proposing a pilot program with enhanced training offered through select schools and by employers with proven track records.“The end goal of this is to support and encourage more Canadians to consider truck driver as a career option, and to better facilitate their entry into our sector,” it says.
- Labour Code exemptions – Recent changes to the Canada Labour Code pose a “serious threat” to the industry, the CTA notes, referring to provisions such as advance notice that would be required for job schedules. While truck drivers are exempted through the documents used by enforcement teams, the alliance wants those provisions added to the regulation itself.
- Support to improve road safety — “Most trucking companies and truck drivers embrace a culture of safety by going well beyond minimum safety standards. However, events over the past few years have shown what can happen when carriers and drivers do not embrace a ‘safety first’ culture,” the alliance says.It points to a 10-point safety action plan the lobby group released in the wake of a fatal truck crash involving a bus carrying members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.That list called for mandated electronic logging devices by the fall of 2019, research into requiring forward-facing cameras on federally regulated commercial vehicles, assessing the feasibility of in-cab technologies to monitor drivers, and studying advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).The group also called on the federal government to encourage provinces to introduce mandatory entry-level training (MELT), incorporate a distracted driving module into that training, expand the use of pre-clearance technologies, and better focus on-road enforcement on human factors that contribute to collisions. Rounding out the list was a call for governments to develop a proactive system to identify companies and drivers that pose a risk to public safety, and supply those who buy transportation services a ‘best practices’ guide to help identify unsafe operators.
Alliance members have been provided related talking points and contact information for political leaders, published here.
To read the full CTA submission, click here.
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