The Province of Ontario today announced a visionary, two-year comprehensive blueprint which will lead the trucking industry through a series of consultations that will make highways safer by introducing modern techniques and approaches that expand the perspective and reach of enforcement to deal with non-compliant carriers, including Driver Inc. operators.
Ontario’s commercial trucks are the safest vehicles in North America, says the Ontario Trucking Association. However, there is currently a small contingent of unsafe, non-compliant operators expanding throughout the industry. Many of these carriers are indicative of the type of irresponsible and illegal behavior witnessed in the Humboldt Broncos collision case and by trucking companies recently reported in a Globe & Mail expose.
“We are extremely proud of the safety record of the Ontario trucking industry, but in order to continue to uphold this historic standard and progress further, we must focus enforcement resources on the underbelly of our industry, which has little regard for the travelling public and treating the hard-working truck drivers of our industry with respect,” says OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
“Minister Mulroney and Associate Minister Surma have initiated a 24-month consultative process that OTA believes will conclude in the creation of a historic, first-of-its kind truck safety plan. This is a visionary, holistic approach toward improving truck safety which goes beyond just focusing on vehicle maintenance exclusively. The root causes of non-compliance and poor performance in our sector will be addressed by this consultative process. As a result, we believe at the conclusion of this process, Ontario’s roads will be safer as a result, allowing good companies to grow and be productive while the bad players will have a clear choice: follow the rules as prescribed or face the consequences of leading-edge enforcement by the province.
“This is momentous opportunity for the compliant majority of companies within our sector and everyone who wants to see highway safety improved further should get involved in this consultative process,” added Laskowski.
The Action Plan, which outlined the process for this consultation, also included additional significant measures previously introduced in a Red Tape Bill by Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, such as the introduction of an integrated vehicle safety and emissions inspection program and long combination vehicle enhancements.
A full copy of the MTO Action Plan can be obtained here. OTA has provided some highlights and further commentary of the plan, below:
MTO Action Plan Statement on Driver Inc:
Ensure that all operators are subject to equal treatment, protecting both competitiveness and drivers. Specifically, addresses an emerging business model in trucking industry known as Driver Inc.
“If you want to reduce the presence of non-compliant fleets on Ontario highways, end their illegal financing model known as Driver Inc. Stop the illegal dollars flowing to these non-compliant and unsafe companies and you make roads safer. The Ontario Trucking Association congratulates the Government of Ontario for being the first Ministry of Transportation to recognize this important, but non-traditional, enforcement step to make highways safer,” said David Carruth, Chair, Ontario Trucking Association. “All provinces and federal departments need to follow the leadership of Minister Mulroney and Surma and join in the fight against Driver Inc. to make highways safer for all Canadians. OTA looks forward to working with MTO during the consultation process on the matter of Driver Inc. and its ties to truck safety”
High Risk Carrier/Driver Enforcement
The following measures are a part of the MTO Action Plan:
- Adjust Ontario’s pointing and infraction system to harmonize, address high-risk activity, and reduce burden;
- Enforce high risk activities through targeted measures and align provincial enforcement efforts;
- Explore Expansion of Insurance Validation Program to Heavy Commercial Vehicles
- Review and evaluate MELT;
- Review CVOR program to place greater focus on operators and drivers that pose the highest risk to safety;
- Implement electronic logging devices in Ontario;
- Improve use of data regarding distracted and impaired driving and continue to research high-risk areas;
- Strategically deploy Ontario’s commercial enforcement program towards high-risk activities;
“This comprehensive approach to managing drivers and carriers will be an important part of the consultative process. OTA strongly believes this direction will bring needed changes to the industry which will allow compliant carriers to flourish in a fair and business-friendly environment while non-compliant carriers will receive the needed attention they require. These measures will make Ontario’s roads safer,” said Geoff Wood, OTA’s senior VP, Policy.
Productive & Competitive Trucking Industry
- Monitor the expansion of Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program to include transport truck drivers;
- Pre-clearance and pre-screening technologies to save carriers time, money and fuel;
- Improve programs to ensure towing of commercial vehicles is managed safely.
- Improvements to LCV program;
- Explore options for electronic vehicle permitting for IRP;
- Update legislation placing seasonal weight restrictions on the trucking industry;
- Update legislation to accept digital carrier and driver documents;
- Produce and issue digital commercial products for industry increasing efficiency and convenience;
- Introduce an integrated vehicle safety and emission inspection program;
- Encourage the uptake of technologies that assist truck drivers in operating vehicles safety.
“Each of these standalone measures offer the industry tremendous benefits. Combined, they represent a substantial opportunity that will transform the trucking industry for the advancement of road safety, carrier competitiveness and the environment. Never before have we seen a regulatory regime so aligned – from a competitiveness, safety and productivity standpoint – with the needs and behaviours of the many compliant and safe trucking businesses in Ontario. OTA looks forward to working with MTO during the consultation process to implement these matters,” said OTA’s Geoff Wood.
Improving Driver Safety and Well-Being
- Increase awareness of how passenger vehicles interact with large trucks;
- Review guidelines to improve construction zone safety;
- Promote relevant workplace safety subjects with industry through annual safety meetings;
- Develop a long-term plan that will ensure the interests of women are fairly represented in policy and programs impacting the trucking industry, while also promoting the trucking industry as a viable industry to work in;
- Support mental health in the trucking industry by developing tools and resources that promote mental health and wellness.
“The commitment to address these issues during the consultation phase made by the Government of Ontario is ground-breaking. The future and long-term sustainability is brighter for our industry when we address such matters,” added Wood.