Q - How healthy is the trucking industry in your province?
Chris Nash - Alberta’s commercial transportation industry is essential to the overall safety, prosperity and economic security of Albertans. A unique aspect of the transportation industry is its reliance on commercial and retail industries, including the oil and gas sector. Data suggests the large volume of heavy truck transportation in Alberta is strongly associated with oil extraction, exploration, refining, distribution and all related oil and gas construction project activities. Additionally, considering the oil and gas sector historically acted as a ‘litmus test’ for the health of Alberta’s economy, the experiences of Alberta’s commercial carriers have demonstrated the commercial transportation industry’s prosperity depends heavily on the oil and gas sector.
Susan Ewart - Trucking in Saskatchewan is undergoing some big changes with the rollout of Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) in March. The skill required to safely operate a truck is finally being acknowledged and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down driver training school registration at all. It is a step in the right direction. With Saskatchewan being a landlocked, export-heavy province, trucking is a critical part of the economy and it always will be. Oil and gas have slowed and so has potash, but we are
still sending goods to market and that requires trucks.
Terry Shaw - As part of the work the MTA we routinely review economic and labour market information which shows trucking in Manitoba is busy. We’ve also seen regular membership growth which is a very positive sign.
Q - What has the Humboldt tragedy meant to trucking in your province?
Chris - The AMTA and industry developed and delivered training over the years, that was optional. The AMTA has long recognized the need for a MELT standard for commercial carriers and drivers to operate on the province’s roadways. For over a decade, AMTA worked towards this goal by developing a curriculum to promote a professional driving career, consulting carriers and stakeholders across sectors, and lobbying. In 2017, the AMTA, with government and industry stakeholders, created a MELT working group to lead discussions addressing issues of the current training model.
The Humboldt Broncos bus crash was a tragedy felt by Canadians and all over the world. This tragedy became the catalyst for taking a hard look at the commercial transportation industry and the need for change. After review, Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason and industry delegates met at the AMTA facility on July 10, 2018, to announce that government was consulting on MELT, pre-entry requirements for new commercial carriers, and modifying the road test model for all driver’s licence classes. The October 10, 2018 follow up announcement gave a hard date of March 1, 2019 for implementation of MELT for Class 1 and Class 2 commercial drivers to strengthen safety requirements for commercial carriers and enhance public safety.
Susan - The accident happened on Saskatchewan highways and has changed trucking not only in our province, but nationally. The tragedy affected a nation and especially the people in Saskatchewan. More emphasis has been placed on those operating a truck that skill is required, and that truck driving and operation of trucks is a profession that requires skill. We have now seen where a lack of training and skills can lead. We have an extensive highway network for a small population and millions of tonnes of goods that need to go to market – we all agree that we need to get that done as safely and efficiently as possible. What really immerged following the accident was the need for our industry to have a collective voice to represent it, and that is what the STA is for. The public generally does not give too much thought to the trucking industry, but when it suddenly had the spotlight on it, trucking needed fair and logical representation in dealing with the public.
Terry - I think this event made it clear that trained licensed drivers is something that the public expects of the trucking industry. We have long advocated for such a standard, and many, if not all, of our members have self-regulated when it comes to new drivers. However, we aren’t enforcement, we are the industry; so we need our government partners to ensure that there are no cracks for other carriers to fall through when it comes to safety regulation and enforcement.
Q - Where is harmonization
at in your province?
Chris - AMTA, along with other provincial associations, submitted the following recommendations to the Deputy Ministers Task Force to indicate the issues we would like them to work on for harmonization at a federal level:
• A consistent and collaborative manner on ELDs
• HOS regulations in all jurisdictions within the federal standard
• Increased collaboration among Ottawa and provinces on truck parking and development of a national strategy
• A minimum baseline across Canada for wide, single tires
• MELT for professional truck operators
• Mandatory drug and alcohol testing for professional truck operators
• All carriers, regardless of domicile (Canada/U.S.), be treated and monitored equally by carrier profile systems
• Canadian carrier profile, safety rating and audit systems be given a formal review for consistency and fairness in their application
• Improvements to the national weights and dimensions MOU for B-trains and tractors with larger sleeper berths
• Provincial agencies to intervene and end the practice of emissions tampering
• All jurisdictions move forward and implement speed limiter regulations
An example of progress would be that the Deputy Ministers identified wide, single tires as one of the strategies brought forward and this was added to the agenda of the First Ministers’ meeting in January 2019. At the meeting, all provinces agreed that the national weights and dimensions MOU be changed to allow for 445 mm and 455 mm tires to receive parity weight to dual at 17,000 kgs, which is now being implemented by the provinces. This will improve safety and ensure trucks can easily transport products across Canada without seeing significant changes in legislation. Within the oil and gas sector, we’ve been successful in aligning weight and dimensions with BC through Alberta Transportation’s engineering sector.
Susan - Harmonization involves all provinces and, in all likelihood, will be a work in progress for a very long time. Saskatchewan has taken some great steps in harmonizing wide base tires and signing an agreement with Ontario, but we have miles to go.
Terry - We are hearing a lot of talk about harmonization in Manitoba, but frankly we aren’t seeing much genuine progress in that regard.
Q - While it’s still early, how has ELD usage been accepted in your province?
Chris - ELDs have been extremely successful within Alberta as companies are continuing to adopt this technology and get it into their vehicles. We are awaiting the finalization of Gazette II, the federal ELD legislation, which we expect to be published in June 2019. Changes with the proposed ELD legislation are taking longer than anticipated because Transport Canada insists that all devices receive third party certification, which will ensure the consumer is protected. We’d encourage all companies to continue exploring devices and ensure they are ready for this legislation change in June as there is expected to be a one-year implementation period.
Susan - Many of our carriers have been using ELDs for years already and have seen the direct benefit the technology brings. From tracking stolen equipment to reducing the administrative burden of paper logs, many Saskatchewan companies have embraced the new technology. Saskatchewan has its own hours of service and there is no software available for that relatively small market, so for now, ELDs are only an option for federal companies.
Terry - ELDs are well used in Manitoba. The ELD mandate isn’t in place for those companies using ELDs because they get it. As with all mandates, they aren’t in place for the majority of our industry who often operate above legal minimums. Rather, mandates are in place for the minority who need higher regulatory standards to elevate their policies and practices.
Q - In last year’s Highway Hot Stove, you listed 2018’s priorities for your respective association (see below). What was accomplished over
the year in that area? What are
your priorities for 2019?
AMTA: Priorities for 2018 include preparing for the opening of our new facility at Edmonton International Airport, which will offer members access to a range of educational options through development of a revised course calendar, state-of-the-art training rooms, simulator training and practical training.
Re: Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, the finalization of the NGWBST program at the municipal level, a curriculum standard for driver training in Alberta, the introduction of ELDS and working with government to see and influence how MELT and National Safety Code changes are implemented in Alberta.
Chris - Facility:
On October 30, 2018 we opened our world class AMTA training facility, which functions as a hub for research, technology innovation and training for the commercial transportation industry. The facility was constructed to LEED Silver standards and features a green roof, electrical vehicle charging stations and a driver training track in a safe, controlled environment. With 24/7 electronic access and proximity to EIA and Queen Elizabeth II Highway, the facility provides a destination for announcements, events, meetings, product launches, research, technology testing and training development and delivery.
Finalization of the NGWBST program at the municipal level is very close and ensuring the changes within the MELT program and NSC changes will improve carrier safety. We are hopeful to see Gazette II of the ELD legislation in June 2019 with a one-year implementation period. AMTA’s Compliance and Regulatory Affairs policy has been finalized and relevant ministers will receive a copy of all AMTA policy positions.
We are experiencing a driver shortage mostly due to an aging workforce. The average age of a Canadian truck driver is now 47 years old, and it is expected to be 49 years old by 2024. In the US, the average age of a truck driver is 55 years old. AMTA is working with industry partners to address recruitment and retention issues, by creating pathways to attract a younger workforce and underrepresented groups, introducing new technologies, and improving the driver experience.
STA: For 2018 the STA has undergone an extensive marketing campaign entitled ‘Only effective together’ #onlyeffectivetogether. Membership growth again is a priority, as well as increasing our paid for services and value adds for members. We need to show existing members and potential members that there is value to belonging to the STA and that we are only stronger together.
Susan - The #Onlyeffectivetogether campaign continues and its launch in 2018 was very successful. It can be difficult for provincial trade associations to demonstrate the exact value they bring to individual organizations because their work affects an entire industry. By using that hashtag and explaining to non-member companies that the STA was their seat at the table, we saw a lot more lightbulbs go off and people really understood what it meant to be a member of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association. Our focuses for 2019 will be two-fold: first priority is carrier safety and seeing an increase in enforcement of regulations in Saskatchewan. The second is to leverage the strengths of the STA Group of Companies, which includes a commercial insurance brokerage (HAL Insurance) and a cross-border trucking consulting company (Canadian Transportation Consultants Inc.). These business units working in tandem can offer a wide variety of services and educational opportunities for companies in Saskatchewan.
MTA: While progress has been slow on the weigh scale bypass and Carrier Profile projects, it is happening. I’m very surprised and a bit disappointed at the Province’s response to our red tape submission. They invited us to outline some specific opportunities, and proposed solutions on trucking industry red tape over a year ago. To date we’ve yet to receive any formal response regarding action from the Province on our submission.
Terry - To be quite honest, progress on any initiatives that involve government input have been moving very slowly. Frankly, we have seen virtually no progress on those above-listed initiatives, albeit not for lack of trying on our part.
Q - Beyond the above statement, in 2018, what were the significant lobbying or consultation successes involving your Association?
How do you view your association’s current relationship with the provincial government?
Chris - The relationship between the AMTA and Alberta government continues to grow. We’ve seen both the Assistant Deputy Minister and the Deputy Minister retire which has left a significant gap in leadership with that organization. We’re looking forward to 2019 as we see new leadership moving into these roles so relationship building can occur.
2018 was an exceptional year for lobbying. Advocacy wins in the Grande Prairie area will save each oilfield hauling transportation company approximately $450,000 annually. For a typical oilfield hauling company with 40 trucks, the AMTA Carrier membership cost is $6,600.
AMTA was involved with the following lobbying successes in 2018:
• MELT – AMTA hosted Alberta Transportation for the October 10 announcement of MELT for Class 1 and Class 2 commercial drivers to strengthen safety requirements for commercial carriers and enhance public safety.
• Highway 40 Wapiti Bridge Twinning and Highway 43X Interchange – As a result of this AMTA infrastructure lobby, on December 14, 2018 Premier Notley announced a $700 million project to twin Highway 40 south from Grande Prairie for 19 km. This project will also include a second bridge across the Wapiti River. The government also announced it will build a new interchange at the intersection of Highway 43 and Highway 43X Grande Prairie bypass.
• PP105-17 Tridem Axle Overweight Parity between BC and Alberta – Within BC, tridem drivers may be permitted to 28,0000 kg and tridem trailers up to 29,000 kg outside of spring weights. Previously Alberta Transportation only permitted tridem drivers and trailers to 27,000 kg. This situation created a hazard at the BC border where drivers were adjusting loads to meet the different weights allowed by untying loads and shifting weight. Alberta Transportation now permits to 29,000 kg from BC into the Grande Prairie area.
• Tandem Steer Picker/Bed Truck – Operating at 17,000 kg during spring ban weights.
• Hitch Offset – Most water trucks operating with a camp shack style trailer using a spindle hitch exceeded the trailer hitch offset, which now has a permit to allow this movement.
• Divisible Oilfield Overweight Permit – This allowed heavy haul equipment to be used in a permittable overweight situation on a backhaul after transporting a non-divisible load, which now eliminates empty equipment traveling in Alberta when it could have been used more effectively.
Susan - Wide base tires and mandatory training were big successes for the STA. These files had been open for years, both were hard work for the staff and members, and both are now relatively complete – it’s a great feeling. The STA has always had a great relationship with all branches of government in Saskatchewan, the ability to roll out mandatory training has been very beneficial for that relationship as well.
Terry - We spent a significant amount of time last year addressing provincial carbon tax concerns. We created a subcommittee of our Board so we could quickly address government actions, we further enhanced our GrEEEner Trucking Efficiency Initiative, and we met with any and all stakeholders. For months, we worked on this, and then the government cancelled the provincial carbon tax near the end of the year. Do we count that as a success? Yes and no – the work the MTA did had an impact provincially, however we are now at the mercy of the federal backstop program, about which we have very few details in spite of a rapidly approaching implementation date.
Our relationship with the Province is generally good, but has been challenging in a few ways. The pace at which decisions are made is much slower than we would like to see, even for government, which is impacted in part by government staffing inconsistencies. As an example, we have had to introduce ourselves to a new Deputy Minister of Infrastructure on average every eight months in the last two years. This makes it a challenge to get momentum going on projects that impact our industry.
Q - Safety is and always will be a cornerstone of the trucking industry. What are some of your association’s plans in the area of safety for 2019?
Chris - AMTA, with support from industry, has developed the Certified Transportation Safety Professional designation which is nearing completion. CTSP recognizes the career progression of safety and compliance professionals within the commercial transportation industry. This is a specialist-level designation that establishes the benchmark for the experience and knowledge required to become a Certified Transportation Safety Professional
The MELT program and NSC changes, along with ELDs that require third party certification, will greatly enhance transportation safety within our province.
Adoption of the federal HOS regulations for intra-provincial carriers will also increase safety and will be a concerted lobbying for AMTA. This will put provincial carriers at a level playing field with federal carriers, which is good for the industry.
Susan - As mentioned, carrier safety is one the STA’s key advocacy focuses for 2019. Companies should not ‘get ahead’ by ignoring safety regulations, period. Driver oversite, enforcement, use of technology, and fair employment practices are just a few of the topics we will focus on. There is no room for unsafe companies in Saskatchewan.
Terry - RPM, our provincial safety program, has been adopted by the trucking industry in a big way. By the end of 2018, RPM had certified 19 companies. Of those, 15 are MTA members. We expect to see continued adoption and implementation of this program in 2019.
We will also continue to advocate for pre-licensing training in 2019, as well as continue to seek greater oversight of private vocational schools. We will also continue working with MPI and government on road safety issues.
Q - Is the MELT initiative progressing in your province?
Chris - The implementation of MELT will ensure the industry has the fundamental tools to operate on public roadways by establishing a benchmark of required knowledge for commercial carriers and drivers. In the coming weeks, the AMTA will continue to support government with the implementation of the new safety requirements and training curriculum. These changes are paramount to improving industry practices and enhancing road safety for all drivers. We look forward to these changes taking effect on March 1.
Susan – MELT will become a reality as of March 15, 2019. There are still a few areas that need to be worked out, but over-all we are very happy with what has happened here in Saskatchewan.
Terry - It is ongoing, but progress has been slow. To date, two other provinces (Alberta and Saskatchewan) have implemented pre-licensing training, whereas in Manitoba at this time, we still have no formal word on implementation.
Q - Have recent efforts (provincially and nationally) to raise the profile of the trucking industry been effective?
Chris - Even with most carriers operating with a safety first attitude the profile of trucking was brought into the spotlight with the Humboldt tragedy. This horrible incident reinforced that there are areas in our industry needing to be improved. As a result, we are seeing positive improvements to carrier safety not only within Alberta but in other provinces and federally.
Susan - I believe they have been effective. The unfortunate accident on April 6, 2018 was a tragedy that shone the light brightly on trucking, and finally we felt like regulators were listening to us about carrier oversight, safety and training. A number of positive steps have come out of this terrible tragedy, but there is still more work to do.
Terry - We have recently undertaken a PR campaign that we believe will positively illustrate to Manitobans what our industry does, and, further, what our industry gives to this province. The slogan “From Here to Tomorrow” focuses not only on the physical movement of goods, but also highlights that the progress we make as individuals and society is aided by the trucking industry. For example, students could not learn without the resources they have in their schools. Those resources were brought by truck, and that’s what we want people to understand. Our industry provides the immediate gratification of ensuring food is on the grocery store shelves, but because someone moved those fruits and vegetables from a California farm in winter, you are able to make that healthy lifestyle choice.
Q - Chris, what more can you tell us about the AMTA’s new training facility?
Chris - The AMTA is the first association to have a member-approved facility like this one in Edmonton. In addition to classroom facilities and state of the art technology to deliver training, it removes testing/training vehicles from public roadways onto the safety of a controlled track.
The facility also serves to further strengthen AMTA’s partnerships with government, WCB, and various industry stakeholders. These are exciting times in Alberta and for commercial transportation. This facility is open for business to the transportation industry stakeholders and the technology research and testing world.
Q - Susan, the STA has offered online training for a year now. How has it been received and will it be expanded?
Susan - Yes, we are offering online training. It has been very well received, especially for companies in remote locations around the province that incur much greater costs to send people to Regina or Saskatoon for training. The STA membership is very spread out and this lets us utilize technology to serve them better. There are well over 50 courses available for Saskatchewan, federal and cross-border fleets – really, something for everyone.
Q - Terry, at this time, 19 carriers have achieved a RPM Certificate of Recognition. What has this meant to the trucking industry in Manitoba?
Terry - We have always said to government that our industry is safe, and that we want to operate in a safe environment. I think that the industry uptake of this program is a clear indicator of that. Carriers were ready for an industry safety program, and they have thoroughly invested in it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been saved in WCB rate reductions as a result of this programs, which is fantastic not only for those carriers, but also for their employees. Finally, I’d like to reiterate that at last count, three-quarters of RPM certified companies are MTA members.
Q - Are there any new products/services for members being offered/enhanced in 2018 that you haven’t discussed in this session?
Chris - With our new training facility comes the Certified Transportation Safety Professional (CTSP) designation which is nearing completion. CTSP recognizes the career progression of safety and compliance professionals within our industry.
AMTA launched updated programming for the Professional Driver Improvement Course (PDIC) in April 2018. PDIC is effective in providing information to commercial vehicle drivers who exhibit high-risk driving behaviour, such as multiple moving violations and NSC violations including distracted driving. This behaviour can ultimately lead to collision involvement. Successful completion of this course qualifies the student for a 3 demerit point credit on their driver’s license. This exciting revision has seen substantial improvements to the materials and instruction.
Susan - We have been focusing on strategic partnerships. These partnerships provide services to STA members at a discounted rate and provide revenue to the STA. Additional revenue streams from strategic partnerships and HAL Insurance allow the STA to keep membership rates relatively low, while offering the same great services and dedication to the members.
Terry - Last year we rolled out two new programs for members: The Precious Metals Program for event sponsorship and the Member Referral Program, which discounts membership rates for our Associate members who successfully refer new members. Both programs have been well-received, and will continue in 2019 rather than introduce new programs. Because of the support of our growing membership base we have been able to reduce or freeze membership rates over the past couple of years. This has occurred as a result of sourcing new revenue streams for the MTA. While not a new initiative pe