In early August, the Trucking Industry and Supply Chain were shocked when Canada labour Code Part 3 revisions were made public. Specific changes that would do the supply chain irreparable harm were not included in any consultation that occurred prior, were introduced in an omnibus bill, and had no opportunity for consultation or input before they were put forward and were set to come into force on September 1st. The most damaging of the revisions to the Trucking Industry were as follows.
- 96 hours written notice for shift schedules
- 24 hours written notice for shift changes
- Requirement for a 30 minute break every 5 hours
- 8 hour break between shifts.
The first 2 mentioned are the more troublesome of the four, however the other two can still cause problems. Now, let me be clear, the PMTC and the Trucking Industry as a whole are in favour of anything that can make the workers in our industry safer and more rested. We are all working towards making our industry more attractive, inclusive and diverse. The only way to accomplish this is to ensure we treat our workers with respect, courteously, and provide them with a workplace and the tools in that workplace to ensure they are happy, secure and safe.
We are all in favour as providing as much predictability in a schedule as possible and minimize the changes to that schedule as much as possible. While we do have dedicated lanes, local delivery jobs, among others that allow for predictive schedules with minimal changes, there is a large segment of industry that simply does not, nor can it, operate that way. As a former long haul driver, and later in my career, a fleet manager, I like to think I understand the realities of the industry from both sides. For an over the road driver, who hauls general freight, they may get dispatched on Monday for a load that delivers in Vancouver Friday. While a load may be searched while they are in route, in a lot of cases the load will not be assigned to the carrier until the truck actually arrives. What if the truck breaks down in route, or is involved in an accident, weather delay etc? If the return load is time sensitive it will need to dispatched to another truck. How do you provide 24 hours notice for this? Often times the load you pick up will not head back to your home terminal either, it could go anywhere in North America. You have to take the freight that is available in the area you are in. If you are working off an open board, how can you predict a week’s schedule 96 hours in advance and provide notice of changes with in 24 hours?? It’s just not practical.
How do you guarantee a driver can comply with the requirement to take a 30 minute break every 5 hours? If you are stuck in a traffic jam, you can’t simply pull the brakes on and walk away….In these scenario’s we have not even mentioned the safety personnel, dispatchers, mechanics, dock workers who may have a change in their schedule as a result of a breakdown, accident or other delays in the supply chain along the way. If the truck is held up, it affects everyone else who plays a part in that trucks load or day and will require a change in their schedule as well.
The good news is, when the Industry caught wind of this, we all worked together. The CTA, PMTC, Provincial Associations, Supply chain industry representatives, and many others, all joined forces to raise the alarm bells with the Feds. Our shippers and receivers who we haul freight for, or in the case of Private Fleets, whose company provides a product or service that is the sole reason that fleet exists, realised that these provisions would throw the Canadian Supply Chain into disarray, and at a competitive disadvantage to the US. With us all joining forces, we got the attention of government. At the time of writing this article, a draft Internal Policy Guidance was in place that would allow drivers and dispatchers to carry on as of September 1st with business as usual. We are hoping to have dock workers, safety personnel and mechanics added before the Sept 1st deadline struck. This is only an interim measure, as in the long term regulations will have to be drafted to exempt certain positions in the industry from these provisions. Disaster was averted however in the short term, and all because as a whole the industry came together. If we can get this kind of togetherness and cooperation from all facets of the industry when it comes to other issues, such as image issues, work life balance, driver shortage, driver wait times etc, imagine how much we could accomplish!!! This type of quick action where we all came together provides me with hope for us all yet!!