MTO is firm on enforcing SPIF regime

by Abdul Latheef

TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is showing no signs of wavering in the face of renewed pressure from dump truck operators over a decade-old weights and dimensions regulation.

“This regulation will remain in place,” the MTO said late Monday in an email to Today’s Trucking.

“There is no viable reason to waver from it.”

Dump Trucks
The MTO says the SPIF regime will remain in place despite the protests. (Photo: Jag Gundu/ODTA)

The dispute is over Ontario Regulation 413/05: Vehicle Weights and Dimensions for Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly (SPIF) Vehicles.

The so-called SPIF standard was adopted in stages during 2000-11, and operators have had nearly 10 years of grandfathering period to comply with the rule.

That deadline expired Dec. 31, and enforcement was expected to begin on New Year’s Day.

But as of late Monday, there was no report of anyone being caught flouting the law.

“We are unable to comment on any enforcement action taken at this time,” the MTO said.

Trucks with SPIF configurations are allowed a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 36 metric tonnes while non-SPIF vehicles will be restricted to operating at a GVWR of 27 tonnes.

The Ontario Dump Truck Association (ODTA), which has been holding protests against the regulation, wants the province to grandfather their vehicles for their full lifespan without any weight restrictions.

The ministry repeated Monday that the majority of the trucking industry has complied with the SPIF regime, or is in the process of doing so.

Al Tucker
Al Tucker photographed beside a non-SPIF dump truck in London, Ont., on Monday. He says non-compliant trucks are not a safety issue. (Photo: Supplied)

ODTA gets support

The MTO statement also came after a former industry executive wrote a letter to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, urging her to hold consultations with the protesters.

“Sit down with the industry representatives as they have requested so that we all can look forward to a better 2021,” said Al Tucker, a former executive director of the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA).

There was no immediate reaction from Mulroney.

Major trucking associations support the enforcement of the SPIF regime, which they say will help ensure road safety, and keep Ontario’s infrastructure intact.

Tucker doesn’t buy that argument.

“The dump trucks have been safe all along. Otherwise, they would never have been allowed to be on the highway. Would they?” he asked.

“They are still subject to inspections on the roadside and at scales. There was never a question about the safety of these vehicles. If there had been, sure the government would have acted before any legislation” Tucker told Today’s Trucking in an interview from London, Ont., on Monday.

He also said that Ontario has the highest load ratings in North America for vehicles on highways.

“If you wanted to argue that point, that certainly could have been a contributing factor to the wear and tear on our highways.”

Retrofit cost

The ODTA has said that most of its members cannot afford to retrofit their vehicles with steer axles and weight distribution systems because that would cost between $25,000 and $40,000.

“If these operators had started to prepare for SPIF conversion in 2011, they would have needed to set aside or save $1.15 per hour to pay for it.”

– Herb Preikschas, sales manager, Cottrill Heavy Equipment

Today’s Trucking reached out to Cottrill Heavy Equipment, which specializes in integrating, outfitting and repairing heavy-duty trucks and trailers, to figure out the exact cost.

“On average, it would cost $23,000 and would take one week to complete the job,” said Herb Preikschas, sales manager at Cottrill, based in Kincardine, Ont.

“If these operators had started to prepare for SPIF conversion in 2011, they would have needed to set aside or save $1.15 per hour to pay for it,” he said.

Preikschas thinks fleets have no problem complying with the rule, and it is the independent owner-operator who finds it a challenge.

“The government has implemented this basically to protect the infrastructure of Ontario that we all pay for,” he said.

Tucker, however, considers the retrofit option a bad idea, especially under the current economic situation.

“I don’t think we need to add cost to anything these days. We are all trying to work our way out of a hole in the ground,” he said.

Cement Truck
The MTO says cement trucks are not grandfathered for their full lifespan. (Photo: iStock)

Cement trucks

The ODTA said last week that dump trucks should be given the same exemption offered to other categories of trucks such as cement trucks.

The MTO clarified Monday that cement trucks are not grandfathered for their full lifespan, but rather have been provided grandfathering up to the point where the vehicle reaches 20 years of age. 

“These additional five years of grandfathering are due to differences in the durability, duty-cycle, and operating environments of cement mixers as compared to dump trucks, which are eligible for extended grandfathering by permit for the life of the vehicle up to 15 years of age based on the original manufacturers build date,” it said.

Communication gap

Was there any communication gap in the lead-up to and following the adoption of the SPIF regime?

The ODTA said last week that the Jan. 1 date had not been shared or communicated to drivers until very recently.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has repeatedly spoke of extensive consultations with the industry before and after adopting the regulation.

Tucker is skeptical about that claim.

“I don’t recall very many dump truck owner-operators being involved in the conversation,” he said.

In his letter to Mulroney, Tucker pleaded for more consultations and called on the minister to act quickly.

“Please use your ministerial powers to fix this oversight that is about to bring an essential service provider to its knees,” he wrote.

Tucker said Tuesday his views do not reflect the position or policies of the CTEA or its members.

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  • If your Cvor due they send you a letter. your annual sticker they send you letter.
    most dump truck owners are single owner operators a guy with a truck.
    how the hell they know what was written 10 years ago in the books. since majority of these people are visible minorities immigrants.
    thanks Al Tucker i hope these politicians have just little bit of commonsense.
    give these people some time to figure out they need time and money to retrofit trucks. have to replace some those are not qualified for retrofitting.
    what other trucking industry does,can’t compares with power units they basically update trailers. it’s totally different situation.

  • So they were aware that changes were coming back in 2000? They’ve had 20 years to prepare? Sounds like they want special treatment as they ignore the laws.

  • The OTA is siding with the MTO on this issue Because they are looking after the big companies.They have lost the needs of the every day small trucker and cater only to big buisness.How many independent owner operators are there on their board .The MTO listens well to the large companies because it is all about money if they get rid of the small guy the big companies can control rates.They can talk all they want about saftey but a cement truck does the same damage if the driver behind the wheel is no better than the dump truck driver.So it is not so much about the saftey as it is about money how many cement trucks are owned and operated by independents.

  • thats what happens when you buy a truck and didn’t research the laws and regulations of the industry
    i wont be surprised the truck seller knew about the new SPIF rules
    Also these truckers knew about SPIF for 10 years and now crying expecting government to bend the rules

  • Certain dump truck operators…sorry…have spent the last few decades driving garbage equipment and not paying the drivers properly to cut costs. Now the gig is up.

    Boo hoo! Suck it up.

    Road building machines were converted to commercial vehicles in 2016 with barely a peep. Huge costs associated with that too.

  • Friend of mine just purchased a one year plate sticker for his 2000 Western Star permitted for 37,000kgs. Girl behind counter said $2600 dollars please have a nice day. How could employees at service ontario not be aware that truck has to operate at reduced weights. It’s all about $$$ that’s all. I have a small fleet of tri axles got rid of old equipment to avoid problems. 5 brand new trucks in the last 10 years 200k + each. Unfortunately I have a 2010,2011,2012. Have to start converting in 2026 three consecutive years. Why not all of Canada then, why just Ontario. I guess we’re smarter here. And only “certified ” shops can do the conversion. Politicians and repair shops going to make millions. Wonder how you get on the “certified ” list. Envelopes full of cash im thinking.

  • I do not agree with what Mr. Tucker is saying about SPIF. He is standing beside a truck that has a steerable lift axle and would just need the electronics to make it SPIF compliant. To change the law now would be an injustice to the owner operators that have converted their trucks to be SPIF compliant for Jan. 1, 2021. I am an owner operator and just had my truck which had a steerable lift axle done at Cottrill Heavy Equipment over the holidays at a cost of just over $6,000. I could have bought a permit for 4 more years but decided to make it compliant thereby keeping its resale value as I am over 65 and might retire in a few years.

    • Agree, the MTO shouldn’t waiver as it will only support those who wouldn’t comply or are ignorant to the laws of the industry they’re in. There are many owner ops like yourself who have complied and you prove that it can be done by independents, not just large fleets. This idea that its just another ploy by the government to put the little guys out if business is BS!

  • This new “SPIF regime” makes you wonder…
    My husband owns a 1995 Ford L9000 the respect he receives when driving down the roads is incredible. The respect of owning an older truck and it still looks like new.
    He has to have a safety inspection for the full truck yearly vs buying a vehicle you can drive into the ground and just renew your plates.
    To have this law come in and find only ONE only ONE MANUFACTURE for the computer to direct and operate the axle is a scam alone.
    Last year the axel was $6,000 as of now it is $10,000
    Who is gaining with this…the roads…I think not

    • Hi Shannon I love the “L” series of Fords… sadly that truck is old enough it would also need Anti lock Brakes installed so that the computer is able to read road speed. I have been in the lift axle business for 33 years . In 1995 a non steerable lift axle depending on model would have sold for $10K to $11K. Today a steerable lift that will comply to SPIF sells for $14,000.oo installed. The computer being used today is the best priced version of the 3 that where available.
      One manufacturer left the market because theirs did not work well… leaving 2…..one is priced at $5000.00 the other is priced at over $8000.00. Therefore the popular choice is not the only choice. I hope this helps you to understand.

  • Mto spent all day yesturday pulling over trucks on lake ridge rd in whitby. Fines and making them dump or remove product. ( Jan 5,2020) company I work for got a fine and dumped. Waiting to find out how big it was.

  • I am an individual owner operator who is on my second SPIF tri axel truck. I knew these rules where coming as far back as 2010. In 2011 all dealerships in Ontario actively promoted buying a pre SPIF truck in order to avoid the hassles of SPIF so it was no secret SPIF was a done deal. Mr Tucker of all people should know that pre SPIF trucks are not as safe as SPIF trucks as rarely is there enough air pressure in the lift axel (nearly impossible to steer with more than 60psi) and these axels are in the air doing nothing (including brakes) more than they are on the ground. Since 1987 when I got my first tri axel till today I have had 5 non SPIF trucks and am now on my second SPIF tri axel. I would never consider going back to the old non SPIF. Until the MTO enforces shared responsibility for over loaded and non compliant trucks, problems of non compliance will continue. For too long in this industry ignoring rules by truckers and the turning of a blind eye by shippers ( as well as a lack of enforcement) rates have been kept low so now this industry has an chance to get the pendulum to swing in our direction on this matter. This also gives the trucking industry a public relations boon with the public to help turn the tide of negative public perception. Being a small business owner in any occupation should involve more than surviving year to year. Long term goals should have an eye to the future and profit that allows for the integration of the latest technology. Being a second generation owner of a small business I am sure my Father had this in mind when he started 71 years ago. What are these truckers who have had their heads in the sand going to do when emissions becomes the next target by the Government By using the excuse that a truck should be allowed to work for its life cycle makes little sense as you can rebuild from bumper to tailgate for years and still have a non compliant truck?
    I want to make clear that over my decades in this industry I have broken the rules many times being overloaded but when rules where put in place to curb the issue (one of the reasons tri axels came into being as we used to put the same weight on a tandem that is now on a SPIF tri axel) every effort to comply was made and no protest at Queens Park was involved. Those of us that have and are complying should be rewarded for our efforts and those that are not should find another occupation.

    • Excellent post Wayne, I second everything you mentioned on the subject. I am a heavy hauler myself and own a 6 axle SPIF all aluminum flatbed. Steel haulers were promised that our payloads won’t be affected with SPIF regulations and they cut us back 5500 lbs on the lifts anyways in the aftermath. But I would never trade my SPIF for a non-spif, it is little bit more work to nail the load placement and have the right air pressure in the torpress bags to control steering sensitivity but it’s all worth it in the end. For those that bought equipment without properly researching the regulations present and future, please take responsibility for your actions and research the market, residual values, equipment depreciation, replacement costs, freight rates and compliance costs thoroughly before jumping into the industry and calling yourself owner operators!! All you are accomplishing is a further degradation of rates because the big guys are able to exploit your overly leveraged dilemmas, please talk to experienced operators who have been in the industry for decades and have a well rounded perspective. Never met an old timer that didn’t enhance my knowledge of the industry and I thank all the giants whose shoulders I learned from, all the best to everyone that find themselves in a bind. STOP MAKING EXCUSES, OWN YOUR MISTAKES—-Learn, adapt, thrive!

  • I’m a new dump truck owner operator for two seasons now , I’ve never been told about this SPIF regime upon the early part of 2020 , I bought a 1998 non steer lift axle truck which was still in operation (working truck ) . Got pulled over once , they check the truck everything ok (safe) sent back to work , so what safety issue they talking about now ? I’m not in a good financial position to add this SYSTEM to my truck NOR getting myself a NEW TRUCK. The 1 truck take care of my family and household is now out of SERVICES . What they left us to DO ?

  • Why not charge non spif trucks an extra charge on there license plate fee maybe 100 per month till end of life of truck

  • If a truck passes all safety requirements there shouldn’t be an issue. Always after the little guy squeeze industry and then squeeze some more and guess what the little guy usually comes out on top ! Keep on keeping on!!!

  • I’ve been involved in the dump truck/construction industry almost my entire life as it was our family business. At it’s peak, we had seven tri-axle dump trucks in our fleet and 4 semi truck/trailers. The repair and maintenance costs of the tri-axles was significantly more than the others and breakdowns much more prevalent. These trucks were what I would consider severe duty. That said, they can be maintained to high standards but at high costs. Some were willing and responsible to do so, others not, some replaced equipment regularly while others did not. The construction industry we all serviced had little regard for the quality or age of the trucks and all recieved equal rates, hourly or on a CPT basis. As long as rates stayed low, they could care less if the capital cost of the truck was $25k or $250k. This did nothing to help and many trucks went down the road outdated and under maintained with higher profit margins for their owners. SPIF has both many supporters and many detractors but its an equalizer long overdue for this trucking segment. It should be used as a opportunity to get rates to more sustainable levels and improve the viability of this business while improving health and safety. For those who couldn’t manage their businesses, save a portion of profits over time to renew equipment, you failed in business, not trucking. For the folks who entered this business and claim to know nothing about the impending reg changes, what research did you actually do before entering? Double fail!

  • I am a contractor in the North Bay area and we have been in the sand and gravel business for over 40 years . We have trucks that were purchased new and are not Spiff compliant. These trucks are very well maintained and should be grandfathered for the life of the truck. We only work 7 or 8 months a year so we should at least be classified like a cement truck and grandfathered for 20 years. In all of these years we have never had an accident or incident caused by the lift systems on our trucks. I feel the current system in place works and should not be changed . Recently we purchased a new triaxle dump truck which is Spiff compliant. During the first snow fall, we were hauling on county roads and encountered unsafe conditions because the lift was down and the truck would not turn with the windy road. We had to use the 4-way flashers to bring the lift up in order to stay on the road. Furthermore, the fact that these trucks need to re-gen, we lose one hour per day of hauling. That’s not good for the bottom line.

  • 2011, nine years knowing that this day was coming and all of a sudden it’s a big surprise? Come on, really. You don’t need to change your truck, you just need to haul 27 tonne. As far as grandfathering, they should all be the same amount of time. That doesn’t seem fair. Life cycle on a heavy truck in severe duty should be the same. They are after basically the same configuration.