Mulroney pushes back at dump truck protesters

John G Smith

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation – and several aggregate-related businesses – continue to support recent upgrades to provincial weights and dimensions, despite ongoing protests by Toronto-area dump truck operators.

“Following at least a decade of extensive consultation, the vast majority of the industry overwhelmingly supports the Safe, Productive, Infrastructure Friendly (SPIF) model and agrees on its importance in protecting Ontario’s critical infrastructure,” Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said in a related statement.

Dump Trucks
Dump truck operators have organized a series of SPIF-related protests this year. (File photo: Jag Gundu/ODTA)

“There is no doubt that heavy vehicles put stress on Ontario’s road network, which compromises the safety of the traveling public. We have known this for decades,” she adds. “The SPIF model was implemented over the course of several years in four phases, with the final phase completed in July 2011. At that time, a grandfathering period was established, which gave carriers nearly a decade to comply – this is an exceptional amount of time.”

Required equipment upgrades, including self-steering lift axles and load equalization systems, can cost $20,000 to $40,000 per truck.

Organizers of the Don’t Dump on Us protests around Toronto estimate that the updated rules essentially removed 1,000 trucks from the road when the latest grandfathering provisions came to an end in January.

While the trucks built to earlier standards are allowed to continue to operate, they must do so at reduced weights.

“We remain firm on our position. This regulation will remain in place,” Mulroney said.

Hundreds of protesters took to highways throughout the Toronto area on Thursday. (Illustration: Don’t Dump on Us Coalition)

The ministry identified a list of supporting associations including the Ontario Trucking Association, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, Canadian Transportation Equipment Association, Greater Ottawa Truckers Association, and Automotive Transportation Service Superintendents’ Association, among others.

The Ontario Trucking Association condemned the rolling blockades, and said the protests were “a threat to public safety and are not responsible or effective expressions of citizens’ or groups’ democratic right to protest.

“The Government of Ontario has actively engaged the Ontario trucking industry for over 20 years on this matter and multiple segments of the trucking industry are already in compliance with the policy,” the province’s largest trucking association added. “To be in compliance with SPIF, all sizes of trucking companies have invested billions of dollars in new equipment that better protects Ontario’s road infrastructure and improves vehicle safety.”

Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, noted that initial SPIF consultations began before 2000, and that rules affecting straight trucks came in 2011.

“Industry, in reality, had even more time than 10 years to transition,” he said. “The time for consultations have ended, and the time for compliance with the regulation, by all facets of the industry, are here and must be enforced.”

Protesters argued that these trucking associations don’t represent their interests.

“The list of supporters provided do not represent the dump truck industry and are not required to meet the regulations in question. In fact, some of those listed have sent letters to the minister urging her to work with our industry to come to solutions,” the Don’t Dump on Us Coalition replied in a supplied statement of its own.

It cited support from groups including the city of Brampton, the Ontario Liberal Party, and Ontario NDP, and accused Mulroney of not working with protesters to resolve concerns.

“Brampton is a major transportation hub. We support our essential dump truck industry and it’s workers. Time for the province to address their concerns and resolve the issues. We have to support our workers – now more than ever,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said on Twitter.

Ontario Liberal leader and former transport minister Steven Del Duca offered support of his own through the platform, tweeting: “Doug Ford needs to bring Ontario’s dump truck operators to the table and consult them on regulatory changes. They deserve a seat at the table.”

SPIF supporters

But the Ontario Ministry of Transportation also identified SPIF supporters including the Ontario Good Roads Association, Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association, and Ontario Road Builders Association (ORBA).

“Over the past several years, ORBA members have made the required investments to ensure compliance with the SPIF regulation. They have done this with full awareness of the timelines involved in the SPIF grandfathering provisions, and in agreement with the ultimate aim of the SPIF regulation – to enhance safety and reduce the impact to Ontario’s roads,” said ORBA CEO Bryan Hocking, in an April 15 letter to the ministry.

Support has also come from individual companies that contract dump truck operators for their services.

“I would like to make it clear that Lafarge, as an industry leader that is always looking to enhance and promote the evolution of safety standards, fully supports the implementation of the SPIF regulations. In alignment with this premise, all our contracted haulers have already made changes to ensure their fleet is compliant with these regulations,” said Lafarge’s Peter Sanguineti, vice-president – aggregates, eastern Canada.

“We would like to confirm that TACC Construction supports infrastructure friendly (SPIF) vehicles and have processes in place to monitor and adhere to the current regulations which took place January 1, 2021,” said Tony Riga, equipment manager at TACC Construction.

  • This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • When will dump truck operators (or any other group that slows down or blocks traffic) wake up and realize that you do not win the hearts and minds of the public by pissing them off? What kind of dumb meathead logic is that? On top that, you give the entire trucking industry a black eye.

  • The main problem is low rates lack of affordable insurance like B C and Saskatchewan have. Many people get injured as dump drivers and because of pay to corporate account or ( lease ops) end up injured and homeless. Many of these drivers have been in Canada 4 years or less. I have seen many of them. That is why a nonprofit group is trying to set up a group home for those people.

  • It is not only spif we are fighting against, it’s operator overloading, rates that these big companies charge as brokerage fees to hire you etc

    • Joe, if the group is protesting against these other issues, they should become the main stream reason for the protests, not SPIF. I applaud Mulroney for sticking to the guns on this, there was enough notice, and most companies have made the transition. Because a limited few decided the rules didn’t apply to them, shouldn’t be the bases of providing a exemption. Using COVID as an excuse is laughable. The simple fact is, most of these individuals purchased trucks there were going to become obsolete at discounted pricing and are now upset. If given an exemption, they would then use it to lower rates as their equipment was cheaper.

    • The whole trucking industry needs major reform to protect truck drivers and lease ops especially those new to Canada. The Ford gov has known about a plan for a group home to house injured and sick truck drivers for the past 2 years. The Ford gov cut off funding over 2 years ago for transport and temp housing for sick and injured truck drivers. I contacted the transport Minister office and that of the O T A in October of 2019 about the homeless shelters not being able to provide proper food and a place for medical care and rest during the day when both W S I B and private insurance company delay care. I support your protesting.

  • Most of these dump truck moving around ontario a 10 years old or new so when you bought new you knew the rules, no feeling sorry for stupidity here

    • You don’t understand! The MTO did informed independent owner oparators of these dump trucks, the MTO has ignoleg that. They simply posted the regulations on their website but never informed anyone.
      If they had informed everyone they wouldn’t have this problem.

  • These “operators ” due not have a valid argument. Trailers have all had to be updated or replaced. We did this as required by the MTO. The ministry is very good at supplying information in news bulletins we got them. Part of being in the business is staying compliant. Lots of time and notice was given.

  • Wasn’t Del Duca involved in the implementation of these Spif requirements and regulations ? As a former Minister of Transport you’d think he’d be fully aware of these regulations ? Looks like he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth . I’m a long haul trucker & don’t like the ways many of these guys operate on our public roadways.
    As for the rolling protests I’d like to see the leaders at minimum charged with public endangerment. There is a minimum speed on our highways and all I could think was an accident waiting to happen or an angry car driver getting into an accident. I’m about public safety and I agree on infrastructure maintenance over the long term .

  • WOW DO NOT DUMP ON US who is their representatives ? 20 years is enough comply or change trade/ job or trucking work city / highway/ can-us trucking

  • Not of these trucks seem too old. Should have bought trucks that were compliant and if you don’t want to comply then park them . No sympathy for stupidity.

  • They undercut the rates of legitimate dump drivers a few years ago, putting many out of business. Now, they don’t want to put out the cash to upgrade their units even though they had ten years advanced notice. They blatantly blocked government weigh stations. Keep pushing back Caroline Mulroney, our roads need not end up like I-75 south of Detroit !

  • Way to go Caroline Mulroney do not fold.

    Safety first and they had 10 years to comply

    All trucks protesting by blocking and slowing roads should be fined!