TORONTO, Ont. – At the PeopleNet Canada Transportation Symposium in downtown Toronto today, David Bradley, president and CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association was invited to speak to attendees about what, from his perspective, are the biggest challenges facing the transportation industry today.
Bradley said that currently there are three “game-changer” issues affecting the trucking industry and that they should be the focus for the industry going forward if it wants to prosper. Though claiming to be upbeat and hopeful for the sector’s future, Bradley warned that if government and industry don’t take these issues seriously, it could be in some hot water.
ISSUE #1: Mandating ELDs
In March 2015, the federal Transport Minister at the time, Lisa Raitt, announced that she was personally supporting the use of electronic logging devices in order to improve safety for everyone on the road.
However, there’s a new Transport Minister in town, (Marc Garneau was named Transport Minister earlier this month) and Bradley said he’s hopeful that despite this change, Canada will move forward and mandate ELDs in the near future.
“I’m always optimistic, I have to in my business or I’d go out of my mind, and the fact that we have a space man as our new Minister of Transport suggests to me that he knows a little bit about transportation, logistics, and the need for communication and the need to monitor things,” he said.
Bradley expressed his disdain for the fact that Canada has taken a backseat when it comes to leading the way with mandating ELDs in North America since it was initially ahead of the curve.
“Canada was ahead…at least Canada’s trucking industry was ahead,” he said. “We were the first association in North America a decade ago to take the position that wherever any truck where currently the driver was required to use a paper log book should be replaced with an ELD of some sort. That was 10 years ago and I think that we had hoped at that time that Canada would lead North America. We were ahead of the US at the time, however our governments chose not to pursue the issue. But, I have some hope that things are starting to change.”
He said that old arguments for why ELDs should be voluntary, like cost and productivity no longer hold water, and added that ELDs could actually help the relationship between the driver and enforcement.
“The relationship between the driver, the carrier and the enforcement officer is going to change,” he said. “Right now so much of it is focused on…’Is the driver lying to me? Is he/she trying to cover something up?’ But once you’ve got an ELD, all of a sudden you’re talking about facts.”
ISSUE #2: GHG Phase 2 regulations
“In no time in our industry’s history has our carriers’ economic goals been as aligned with society’s goals in terms of the environment, specifically GHG emissions, than they have ever been,” said Bradley when discussing the issue of GHG Phase 2 regulations. “It’s a good thing because it appears the new government is going to be taking a proactive approach to GHG reduction than the previous federal government.”
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2, from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is set to apply fuel efficiency standards to trucks and engines beginning in model year 2021.
Now, it’s up to Environment Canada and Transport Canada to develop a similar rule. But Bradley said he doesn’t want Canada to play second fiddle and simply mirror the US regulations.
“We have to go about it intelligently. Canada is way behind in terms of developing the policy and framework and I for one, don’t like Canadian laws being developed by US congress,” he said, adding that Phase 2 regs are a whole new kettle of fish in comparison to Phase 1 regs, because Phase 2 involves trailer regulations.
ISSUE #3: Driver shortage
In order to attack the driver shortage issue – which according to the Conference Board of Canada will reach 33,000 for-hire drivers and cause a major crisis – we have to look at compensation and training, said Bradley.
“It’s a very complex issue and there are issues with compensation as there always are when you’re talking about a shortage of anything,” he said. “Compensation hasn’t gone up though, as it should in our industry. We have to be competitive, in order to attract people from other sectors, or those are are looking for work.”
He added that the industry cannot be complacent and should alter driver pay because “nobody else can solve this issue, except the industry itself” and that the role for government in helping solve the driver shortage issue is to make driving a skilled trade.
“Trucking should be a skilled trade. Not to disparage hair dressers, but that is a skilled occupation, whereas truck driving isn’t,” he said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. What we’ve been pushing for is mandatory entry level training and have the occupation deemed to be skilled. How can it be designated a skilled trade when there’s no training?”
He added that the industry needs to step up and recognize drivers’ skills too and said that decals on trucks placed by companies who are looking for drivers who need “no education” to apply, pushes the industry backwards.
“Not withstanding the issues I mentioned, for the most part and for the foreseeable future…the future of trucking is bright and it will continue to dominate and I look forward to watching that happen,” he said.