Was the Department of Infrastructure prepared for the findings in the Auditor General’s Report?
The audit process took about 30 months and involved a great deal of interaction between the auditors and Manitoba Infrastructure. The Department accepts the findings in the Auditor General’s report. We are committed to working with stakeholders, and we are determining the best course of action to address the 17 recommendations.
The report shows that the Department’s safety fitness program is insufficient when it comes to checking operator’s safety knowledge/practices (before issuing a certificate) and following up on poor safety performance records. What is the Department’s plan for addressing this issue and ensuring that these areas are tended to within the Department, through the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) and throughout the industry?
The Department has been exploring best practices found in other provinces, as a means to address the recommendations. For example, British Columbia requires safety fitness certificate (SFC) applicants to complete an online knowledge program as part of the application process, to ensure that new carriers are properly prepared to operate a commercial trucking venture. Also, some jurisdictions require that carriers submit a safety plan as part of their application. These proactive measures are being evaluated for future incorporation in Manitoba.
The Department will be working to scope the requirements for a new Carrier Profile System (CPS). A new system will incorporate enhanced report functionality to identify poor-performing operators, and those that pose an increased safety risk (such as dangerous goods haulers).
The report states that there are inconsistencies with the management of on-road inspections. What measures will the Department take to address the ‘predictability’ of station/patrol operating hours, the specific months where inspections occur (May-September) and operator inspections?
We agree that there can be more variability in the scheduling of enforcement operations, and we will be taking steps to address this in the coming months. By ‘planning to be random’ in our officers’ shift schedules, officers will be exposed to a greater variety of carriers than those that are predominantly operating during daytime hours.
The Department has long monitored the ‘outputs’ of the CVSA roadside inspection process, and reports these figures publicly on the MI website. Part of the value of these reports is that it enables us to set performance targets for staff. The Auditor’s Report acknowledged the proactive measures taken in recent years to increase the output per officer, but it also indicated that there is the potential for more inspections. We will create administrative procedures to maximize inspections scheduling and timing.
The Department will expand the use of its two all-weather inspection sheds during the winter months. Also, we will look at increasing the number of CVSA Level 2 walk-around inspections during the colder parts of the year. While we recognize that the inspections need to occur year-round, we have to ensure that they can be done safely.
The report also brings attention to the inconsistencies with assessing safety efforts. What steps will the Department take to work with MPI, MTA and the industry to review the existing safety framework, assess its effectiveness, and ensure that any inconsistencies are addressed on a go forward?
The Department conducted a Safety Framework Review in 2018-2019, which included the opportunity for stakeholders, such as the MTA and other groups, to provide their input and we are reviewing outcomes. In addition to our regular meetings with MPI, we will hold targeted meetings for the OAG report and the Safety Framework Review.
The report mentions the Department is strategically planning for some plans around specific initiatives, including the mandatory entry-level training (MELT) and using Intelligent Transportation Systems. Could you go into further detail about these plans and what the industry has to look forward to?
Manitoba introduced the MELT requirement effective on September 1, 2019. The 121.5-hour course is required prior to obtaining a Class 1 driver license. It is aligned with similar programs introduced in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Information about MELT is available Manitoba Public Insurance’s website: https://www.mpi.mb.ca/Pages/mandatory-entry-level-training.aspx
With regards to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), MI worked closely with the MTA in assembling information about e-screening technologies. This included engaging the various service providers of e-screening to gather a better understanding about what is involved with adapting/deploying these in our province. We recognize that this ITS technology provides savings to industry, as they have the opportunity to by-pass weigh stations. In turn, enforcement officers can focus on lower performing (i.e., higher risk) carriers. MI will be devoting further efforts to this initiative this year.
The other significant ITS application MI has been working on is the replacement of the Advanced Routing and Permitting System (ARPS). ARPS was implemented in 2007, and does not have automated routing capabilities. Last year, the Department used ARPS to issue over 92,000 permits. ARPS will be replaced by SUPERLOAD in 2020. Industry will have access to self-issuance capabilities via the Internet for simple permits, although they will continue to be able to contact MI permit agents if they choose.
Will you be working with the Manitoba Trucking Association, SAFE Work Manitoba, Association of Manitoba Municipalities, MPI or other stakeholders/organizations to review current programs, develop new safety initiatives, programs and policies, and bridge any gaps between rural, urban and municipal highway inspections?
One way that the Department formally consults and exchanges information with industry is through regular Motor Carrier Consultative Committee meetings. MPI and the MTA are included in these meetings, as are many other stakeholder groups such as from the farming, oil and forestry sectors. As we address the OAG recommendations, we will seek further opportunities for engagement.
Regarding urban and municipal inspections, last year the Motor Carrier Branch provided training to eleven members of the Winnipeg Police Service, which enabled that agency to conduct CVSA inspections in Winnipeg. Our Motor Carrier Enforcement Officers regularly participate in targeted commercial vehicle inspection events held by municipal police forces, such as Brandon.
Does the Department of Infrastructure have an estimated timeline for when the listed recommendations (throughout the report) will be addressed and solutions be implemented?
The Auditor General requires that the department provide an update to the report’s recommendations in autumn 2021. MI strives towards implementing the best possible solutions for each recommendation, and we look forward to reporting our progress.
As the Department of Infrastructure works through these challenges, what can the trucking industry do on their part to be compliant and stay safe?
Generally speaking, the trucking industry is safe. The Department sees this as an opportunity to improve the motor carrier safety services we provide. Having an independent observer like the Auditor General assess our operations and policies sets the course for the department to evolve and do better.
We would encourage the trucking industry to download a copy of ‘A Guide to Transportation Safety,’ and be familiar with the contents. Because the material is updated quite regularly, we’d encourage people to check that site regularly to ensure that they have the most current version. It is available at https://www.gov.mb.ca/mit/mcd/carriers_drivers/safetyguide.html.
The Auditor General’s Report for Manitoba is the latest one to be published and draw attention to matters that need to be addressed by government. Alberta’s report was published February 2018 and Saskatchewan’s was December 2018. The purpose of these reports is to set meaningful timelines (and keep them on track) when it come to uncovering any inconsistencies, providing insights and comparing what other provinces are doing.
Your provincial association is actively working to ensure that its provincial government has the tools, resources and support systems in place to carry through on its action items In Manitoba, Terry Shaw, Executive Director of the Manitoba Trucking Association, states, “This report supports what we have been advocating for on behalf of our members for a long time. We are hopeful that the findings in this report will also help the public better understand the opportunities for improved commercial vehicle safety in Manitoba. Already, we have seen more and better outreach from the government regarding the recommendations in this report, and we anticipate that this positive momentum will continue.”
In Saskatchewan, Susan Ewart, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association, says, “The STA feels that the governments are working to improve and we want to ensure that they continue to focus on commercial vehicle enforcement and safety and that these areas are still is their primary directive with the new responsibilities.”
In Alberta, Chris Nash, President of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, confirms, “In response to the Auditor General’s report published November 2019, the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) supports consistent compliance of disciplinary and enforcement action against non-compliant carriers. The AMTA has formulated a policy position with recommendations including instruction materials and examinations focusing strictly on carrier responsibilities, liabilities and performance expectations.”
Together, they’ll ensure that safety is at the forefront of each decision and action taken to benefit the industry and protect the public.