Provincial cooperation key to success

TORONTO — Implementing strategies from a trade agreement between Ontario and Quebec has greatly benefited truckers, says the Ontario Trucking Association, but there’s still work to be done.

Speaking to about 100 policymakers and business leaders at a Public Policy Forum think tank on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between Ontario and Quebec, OTA president David Bradley, lauded the outcome of the negotiations, saying that it “was a historic agreement, one that will help usher in a new era in terms of the competitiveness, productivity, safety and environmental sustainability between and within the two provinces.”

All three recommendations from the OTA to Ontario’s lead negotiator, Jim Peterson, the former federal Minister of International Trade were implemented, including harmonized speed limiter legislation in both provinces; Ontario increasing the allowable axle weights for trucks using new generation wide-base single tires to harmonize them with the allowable weights for conventional dual tires and with the standards that already existed in Quebec; and for Ontario to conduct a trial of the controlled use of longer combination vehicles (LCVs).

Bradley told the audience that when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his province would be moving to introduce all three of OTA’s recommendations, “we felt like we had just scored a hat-trick.”

However, Bradley cautioned, there is still a lot of work to do. For example, he said that while Ontario is allowing the higher weights on wide-base single tires, Quebec has yet to remove its $200 per axle permit for these tires despite promises to do so. According to Bradley, “this has stymied the introduction of this more fuel efficient, GHG-busting technology.”

He said that OTA had been informed that Quebec was prepared to introduce a stop-gap measure of reducing the permit fee to a token amount ($2.00 per axle) until such a time as a regulatory window opened to repeal the permits, but that has not happened.

Bradley said “we have been given different excuses, the narrow regulatory window, changes in personnel at the MTQ, etc., the latest we heard is that we may have to wait until March. This is disappointing and unacceptable given the degree to which Ontario has moved and when reducing GHG is supposed to be a major policy priority.”

Other speakers included Quebec Economic Development Minister and the head of the Quebec Chamber of Commerce.

The Public Policy Forum is an independent, not-for-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of government in Canada through enhanced dialogue among the public, private and voluntary sectors.

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