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Transportation security programs need to refocus on risk management, CTA tells Senate Committee

OTTAWA, Ont. -- In an appearance yesterday at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, re...

OTTAWA, Ont. — In an appearance yesterday at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, representatives of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) cautioned that land transportation security programs, particularly at the Canada-US border, continue to result in duplication, overlap and ever-increasing costs.

“Like the exporters whose goods we carry, the trucking industry is unsettled by the fact that the cost of moving goods continues to be driven up by security measures that are rolled out and evaluated in isolation from one another. The big picture an appropriate balance between security and trade efficiency seems to have been lost,” CTA senior vice-president Graham Cooper told the committee.

He noted that the trucking industry fully understands how the Canada-US trade picture has changed since September 2001, and has in fact played a key role in trying to maintain the balance between efficient trade and enhanced security: “Hundreds of Canadian carriers more than any other part of the supply chain, by a wide margin have signed up for Canada’s Partners in Protection program, as well as the US Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. The number of Canadian truck drivers who have been security screened under the Free and Secure Trade program now exceeds 70,000. Thousands of carriers are now supplying advance cargo, crew and conveyance data to US Customs and Border Protection on export loads.”

The trucking alliance’s view is that six years after 9/11, it is becoming apparent that Canada and the US have created an array of programs that don’t always dovetail with one another, and the situation seems to be getting worse. As Cooper told the committee, “The reality is that the trucking industry today faces a range of mode-specific requirements, facility-specific requirements, and even commodity-specific requirements coming at us from departments and agencies on both sides of the border. The situation is not sustainable. We can’t go on forever, layering one new program on top of another, further driving up the cost of transportation and harming Canadian competitiveness.”

CTA acknowledged that there is of course no silver bullet to address these problems, but government agencies on both sides of the border must remember that the appropriate balance between efficient trade flow and enhanced security can be achieved only if risks are properly assessed. Cooper told the committee that, “The focus on risk is absolutely fundamental. Our view is that a proper assessment of risk creates a win-win scenario for the trucking industry and government: for us, in ensuring that inspections and programs are targeted to where they are really needed; and for government, in ensuring that scarce resources are applied where they will do most good.”

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