Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Chairman)
Mr. Brooke Taylor
Mr. William Dooks
Mr. Mark Parent
Mr. Howard Epstein
Mr. Charles Parker
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)
Mr. Wayne Gaudet
Mr. Harold Theriault
Mrs. Darlene Henry
Legislative Committee Clerk
Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association
Mr. Ralph Boyd
Mr. Dave Miller
Eassons Transport Ltd.
Manager of Personnel and Safety
HALIFAX, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2004
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Russell MacKinnon
MR. CHAIRMAN: Good morning, gentlemen. We'll bring today's meeting of the Economic Development Committee to order. With us we have representatives from the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, the President of the Association, Mr. Ralph Boyd, and also Mr. Dave Miller, who is the Manager of Personnel and Safety at Eassons Transport Ltd. The way it works, gentlemen, is generally we'll have opening statements, anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes, and then we'll open up the floor for questioning by individual members. We'll start off by asking the members of the committee if they would be kind enough to introduce themselves, starting on my immediate left.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: The floor is yours.
MR. RALPH BOYD: I thank you very much for the opportunity to come this morning. I have a brief presentation here. I'm just trying to give you some insight into our industry. One thing I must say is data collected within our region, and I'm speaking of the Atlantic Region, and in particular Nova Scotia, sometimes it's very difficult to get the necessary breakdowns, to give you some sense of the scope of the industry within this particular province.
The trucking industry in Atlantic Canada is roughly 6 per cent of the national industry. In particular in Nova Scotia, there are some thoughts that for the for-hire carriage industry there's something in the area of 1,100 companies operating within Nova Scotia. The presentation I'm going to give you is more or less a Canadian view of the industry, and in specific, if you have some questions, we'll attempt to deal with them on the scope of the industry within Nova Scotia.
Again, this morning, I'm President of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, and I'm also a Vice-President of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. The Canadian Trucking Alliance is a federation of 4,500 carrier companies within Canada, and within Atlantic Canada we have a membership of approximately 400 companies. We do not represent everybody in the trucking industry, but we have representatives within our association from almost every sector of trucking, and that's from the forestry, farming, mining industries, and so on and so forth.
We serve every community that's accessible by road. Our revenues have now topped the $52 billion mark; we're at $52.2 billion. Primarily, we are Canadian-owned, by and large. Most companies operating in Canada are Canadian-owned. We deliver 90 per cent of all consumer goods and food stuffs. We are the consumers' choice of transportation. As I said, we deliver almost everything, and we do, on occasion, have to deliver these young fellows at the roadside.
We're the just-in-time delivery system in Canada. We add value to the manufacturing sector. We are the door-to-door consumers' choice of delivery. Smaller shipments are very suitable to our industry, rather than other modes of transportation, and we're often compared to the rail industry. We're not always the cheapest, but our selling point is service, the fact that we can deliver goods directly to every one of your doors, as consumers.
Over 400,000 jobs in Canada are directly related to our industry. We have the distinction of having the largest group of males, the largest single occupation within Canada, which is truck driving. There's some 263,000 males who have declared their profession as truck driver. The workforce in Canada is approximately 283,000 drivers. So there's about 20,000 females who work within our industry, and we're seeing more and more females come to our industry on a daily basis.
Direct and indirect workers. Over 700,000 Canadians work directly or indirectly with our industry.
A third of Canada's GDP is dependent upon trade with the United States, and trucks carry two-thirds of Canada-United States trade. Over 13 million trucks cross the border each year, that's one truck every 2.5 seconds; 25,000 trucks a day cross into the United States from Canada; and 68 per cent of those trucks involved in international trade are Canadian trucks.
We're very much under the microscope by the general public. We're one of the very few industries that has to share our workplace with the motoring public. Safety is paramount within our industry, and we need to work more safely to share our work space, which is our roadways. The general public is constantly looking for a cleaner environment. There's a great deal of pressure upon our industry to operate cleaner, I refer to it as operating greener. People
would much rather have us not spewing diesel smoke and particulate matter into our environment.
Many in the room would ask, how safe is our industry? Well, our industry is a very safe industry. We're involved in less than 2 per cent of all vehicle collisions on our highways. Eighty per cent of the time when there is a commercial vehicle involved in an incident, the driver is found to be operating the vehicle in a safe, responsible manner - 80 per cent of the time. Fatal collisions are down 12 per cent in the last decade, and they continue to be reduced. One item that I would like to point out is in our industry our average long-haul truck is operating somewhere in the area of 125,000 to 130,000 miles a year. The number of trucks on our highways has increased substantially in the last 20 years. As well, the miles in which those trucks are travelling has increased substantially, while on the other side of the ledger the incidents involving commercial vehicles have dropped substantially.
We view ourselves as a very safe road user in comparison to other road users out there. I will point this out, that on average our truck is travelling at 100 to 110 kilometres per hour, it's weighing 100,000 pounds, it's operated by a very skilled professional, but if a 4,000-pound object stops in the middle of the road in front of them, something catastrophic is going to happen. Deaths involving truck drivers have been dropping steadily, but our big concern is the loss of life of motor car operators on our roadways. We would like to live in an environment where there were no accidents or incidents but we have to be realistic, there are accidents and incidents, but we would like to keep those to a minimum. As we proceed this morning, maybe a question will arise in regard to that area of safety.
From an environmental standpoint we are very regulated, probably more regulated than the other modes of transportation that we compete against. We have now reduced our smog by 40 per cent. We will look at 2006 and we will see the sulphur content in diesel fuel cut to 15 parts-per-million, from 500 parts-per-million, where we will move to an environment of ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel, which is going to be very expensive to obtain. At this particular time, within the Atlantic Region we only have one refinery that is prepared to produce that fuel that we will desperately need in 2006 and beyond.
The fact is that at the introduction of model year 2006, we will have cut smog emissions by over 90 per cent. When you compare us to other modes of transportation, we have done a tremendous job of making ourselves greener but, again, trying to convey that message to the public is a difficult thing to do.
Constantly we are asked if we are paying our fair share. The average tractor-trailer operating on our highways today pays more than $45,000 annually to various levels of government in tax. We have an industry that is under a great deal of pressure on the taxation side of it. If you look at what we contribute to the federal government in fuel taxes alone, not including provincial taxes, which are a per litre tax, just the 4-cent excise tax, we contribute over $2 billion a year to the federal government. So when the question comes about, would
we support any provincial government to seek more dollars from Ottawa to improve our infrastructure, we're an industry that is quite willing to support any government that is trying to extract dollars from our federal sources.
These are some of the major issues that are facing us today. Border security versus trade facilitation. As everybody in this room knows, the world has changed since 9/11, it has changed dramatically for our industry. Just to pass a brief story along, we have a couple of carriers that for the last 25 years have been producing french fries in Atlantic Canada and those french fries have been moving into the U.S. and moving to a major U.S. port for shipment overseas. In the 25 years we have never had one load of french fries inspected and in the last two weeks we have had every load of french fries opened and examined. What they are looking for is any type of behaviour involving anything from terrorism, smuggling, contraband, whatever it may be, so the environment is rapidly changing.
Every time a truck appears at a border, it is now being scrutinized, not only for the content of goods but the carrier is put under a microscope, as well as the driver or operator of that truck.
Another major issue in this country is we suffer desperately in comparison to other industrialized nations in the fact that we do not have a national highway program. In particular, I will draw a point to a particular highway within Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia seems to enjoy the only toll highway in North America where there is not a safe, alternate route for truck traffic at no charge. All goods travelling into or out of this province are subjected to a toll. We can appreciate why Nova Scotia had to take the position to establish a toll highway, simply because they wanted the highway built. But if we move to a national highway program, we would be hopeful the federal government would assist Nova Scotia in paying for that highway and eliminating the toll so that all citizens and all users of that highway could use it freely.
As well, our National Highway System, we need to get better utilization of what infrastructure we presently have. I look at a terrific four-lane highway system developed out of Halifax, through to Amherst. I'm looking at improvements of the four-lane highway system within New Brunswick that, hopefully, by the latter part of 2007 we will see a four-lane highway system from Halifax to the Quebec border. We would sure enjoy getting better utilization of that highway and when I talk about better utilization, I have to skip down four points here and talk about a labour shortage. We are suffering a labour shortage and a better utilization of our highway system may help our driver shortage situation.
What I am talking about here, ladies and gentlemen, are LCVs, long configurated vehicles; that's one driver, one tractor and two trailers being hauled across our four-lane highway system. It sure enhances our ability to be productive and be more cost effective in the services that we're providing our customers.
Hours of service and safety are a major issue within North America today and within Canada, we will soon - hopefully by 2006 - be moving to a new regime of hours of service, that is also going to affect our ability to be productive. There are some enhancements coming that will enhance the lifestyle of our drivers but will also impact some service levels in our ability to serve our customers.
Skills and labour shortage, as I said, we're like every other industry out there. We are a blue collar industry and we're struggling to find workers. If some questions come up about that, we do have some additional information.
Tax competitiveness. It's extremely important that our industry remain very competitive with our American counterparts. As I point out in one of the earlier panels, 68 per cent of trucks involved in international trade are Canadian trucks, and we need to be on a level playing field with our competitors in the U.S. All levels of taxation that are directed to our industry really need to be looked at and assurances given that the industry will not be swamped with additional taxation, and put us in a situation where we can't be competitive and serve our customers.
Environmental regulation, as I said earlier, we're becoming very regulated and there is a tremendous cost to that, but we are bearing that cost at this point. We're having to pass those additional costs on to our customers.
My final point is rising costs and the age-old story of supply versus demand. Right now we're getting to a point where we have a labour shortage that is impacting our industry and its ability to move commodities. That will be further impacted as our workforce is getting on in years. We are not finding younger people wanting to come to our industry and we're going to be struggling to serve.
I guess my final point is that we, as an industry, are anxious to develop partnerships, not only with the customers that we serve but the authorities who regulate and govern our industry. I think it's extremely important that we not work in isolation, that we work together and we have shared responsibilities to ensure that our industry remains healthy. I'm sure that everybody around this table is anxious to have the Nova Scotia economy remain healthy and grow. It's extremely important to our citizens, and there is a necessity for us to work in a harmonious manner to reach common goals. For that, I thank you. If you have any questions, we're quite prepared to field them.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Boyd. Just before I open it up for questions, for members of the committee a clarification, you made reference to $2 billion a year in revenue generated through taxes, is that just from the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association or is that nationally?
MR. BOYD: No, that's nationally. Again, we're approximately 6 per cent. The Atlantic Region trucking industry is about 6 per cent of the industry overall in the country. We're making a substantial investment in taxation revenue that goes to the federal government. As you gentlemen are probably well aware, the federal government does not do a terrific job of reinvesting that $2 billion that's collected annually.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We just needed clarification as to whether it was $2 billion for the Atlantic Region or nationally. The first member on our list is Mr. Parker.
MR. CHARLES PARKER: Good morning, gentlemen. An interesting topic, for sure. I travelled down the highway this morning, and some trucks passed me and I passed some trucks. So we see lots and lots of them on the road. I have a couple of questions here I wanted to ask you. Coming from Pictou County, as in a lot of areas of the province, there's several large trucking firms. I've talked to some of the owners, in particular Gerald Battist, who I believe is on your executive, and Rollie MacDonald and some others.
One of their biggest concerns has been around labour shortages and around attracting enough skilled drivers. They just can't get enough. In fact I know they have trucks sitting without drivers. I know there's some training through the private college system, like at Masstown and so on. There's been some immigration of drivers, I think, coming into the Atlantic Provinces from Europe, especially in New Brunswick. What is it that you would like to see, maybe as a province? What can we do to help the industry? What further training or sponsorship - I'd like you to address that particular question.
MR. BOYD: Well, at this point I think I'll turn this over to Mr. Miller. He's involved in a number of organizations within Nova Scotia, in the human resource aspect.
MR. DAVE MILLER: Good morning. I think you hit the nail on the head. Probably the biggest challenge to success today in the trucking industry is putting a good professional driver in the seat of a truck. There is an abundance of good freight, customers are reasonable, equipment is available, everything is going - with the exception of insurance and fuel - fairly well. The problem is if you can't put a good qualified driver in the seat of the truck, the equipment does nothing for you.
I think we have to do a whole bunch of things as far as attracting new entrants into the industry. How can the government help is a very good question. I think we need to take a look at the immigration policy. Manitoba, for example, or what New Brunswick has done with the Provincial Nominee Program would be a start. I think the fact that the driver in
Nova Scotia, under the National Occupational Classification system, is seen as an unskilled labourer. I find that almost offensive. The gentleman who drives a tractor-trailer through downtown Halifax, laden with gasoline, for example, I can't believe that in this day and age we still look at that individual and call him an unskilled labourer.
If you have an individual who wants to immigrate into the country who is skilled in what they do, who has a good, clean work history, who has a clean criminal abstract, who has the ability to be drug tested, all of the things that we're looking for in a professional driver, they can only come in now, I believe, and stay for 12 months, after which they must return to their home for four months and apply again. I think under the Provincial Nominee Program in New Brunswick, they're giving them the ability, once they're in, to apply under the Provincial Nominee Program because they have deemed truck driving to be a demand occupation.
MR. PARKER: How many in New Brunswick have actually been brought in under the Provincial Nominee Program or through Immigration Canada? Do you have any idea?
MR. BOYD: Approximately 100 drivers have been brought in over the last 18 months. We have other provinces that have a little bit of a longer history in that regard. Saskatchewan, for example, now is cresting 300 drivers over the last two years. So there is an attraction for foreign skilled workers within the truck transportation industry to come to Canada.
MR. PARKER: How many have been brought into Nova Scotia?
MR. BOYD: I would have to say Mr. Miller has the unique experience of attempting to get the first truck driver in the Province of Nova Scotia with little or no success. Ultimately what happened was the driver ended up going to New Brunswick and being accepted under the Provincial Nominee Program in New Brunswick.
MR. PARKER: So there's 100 or so in New Brunswick but zero so far in Nova Scotia.
MR. BOYD: To the best of our knowledge.
MR. PARKER: It seems like something that, as a province, we should be encouraging. If it's working in our neighbouring province, why couldn't it work here if we have a shortage of skilled drivers. It seems like one possible solution to the overall problem - there's many other solutions - that would work.
MR. BOYD: In all fairness, Mr. Parker, I don't think there's one particular thing that we could do to solve the shortage issue. Nova Scotia does have quite a bit of success that they should be proud of. They have established a standard for driver training within this
province that is one of the highest standards in the country. They have a 12-week internship program. One thing that is faulting that particular program is the ability for people to find the necessary funding to enter those private training schools. That is a real difficulty in the aspect that there are a number of other professions where funding from a variety of government sources in order to obtain the necessary dollars to put an individual into a trained profession, there seems to be a lack of willingness to put dollars towards an individual entering the truck driving business.
I can assure you that the trucking industry is an economic driver, and without having those skilled workers behind the wheels of vehicles the whole aspect of what Nova Scotia has been built on for many years - it's a trading province, we produce raw materials from the forest or the farm or the fishery and we sell those products elsewhere - if we don't have the qualified people to move those goods to market and then in return bring finished goods back to consumers within this region, we're going to have a difficulty in growing our economy.
MR. PARKER: What I see in my constituency, and I'm sure it's true all over the province, is a lot of young people who are looking for work, looking for an opportunity, probably male and female both, who would make good drivers, but they just can't seem to get enough funding, for sure, and to get through the red tape. Yet, on the other side, there are people like Gerald Battist and so on who really need drivers. Somehow we have to match those two up. Is there any initiative on the part of the individual trucking company to somehow sponsor young people, perhaps under a guarantee that once they graduate they would drive for the company for a period of time?
MR. MILLER: One of the difficulties we always have is you want to have the right individual up front, and that's very hard to tell prior to them going through all the training. I can spend an afternoon with you and decide that, yes, you fit all the textbook criteria of what a good driver is going to be, but three weeks into the course I realize that you just can't back up. I don't want you on the road in my gear, as a matter of fact I don't want you on the road in anybody's gear. It does make it a little bit of a challenge to buck up and pay the bill, and hope that everything goes well.
We have entered into some cost-sharing arrangements with some students, with forgivable loans, for example, if they stay a year. We do have a policy within our company that any family relative of any of our employees, we'll pay half the cost of the tuition, as a forgivable loan. And we're not alone, there are other companies that are doing that. Historically the trucking industry has tried to fix all of their own problems. We'll do as best we can, but we can't do it alone.
MR. PARKER: It seems like an opportunity to match up people who are willing and able to work with companies that have a need for good drivers.
MR. MILLER: Very much so.
MR. BOYD: I think if there's one key point I would like to make about the truck driving profession, it is we refer to it in the business as a lifestyle. It's not a lifestyle that's comfortable for every young person who's out there. But I think you are correct, Mr. Parker, there are young people out there who I think would be very suited, but they can't find the necessary mechanisms.
For example, I'll deal with a large group of people in our workforce today, which I refer to as the underemployed. They're working at Tim Horton's or McDonald's simply because they wanted a job and they found a job. They've taken on certain obligations, they may have a car, they may be renting an apartment or whatever it might be, but they've taken on certain obligations. There's really no mechanism out there today that will assist those individuals to come out of that underemployed position and go to a betterment of their employment situation.
It seems that all of our government programs are more or less focused for those people who are on EI or whatever else might be out there, social assistance. From our experience, those people are maybe the most difficult group in which we are trying to draw people from. We would much rather be able to try to deal with the underemployed but there's really no financial mechanism to help them with their obligations while they go through retraining for another industry.
MR. PARKER: I have one other question, Mr. Chairman, if I can squeeze it in here.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You have 40 seconds.
MR. PARKER: In the manual that was given to us there's a section on truck weight and length. Recently, travelling through the Province of Quebec, I noticed a number of vehicles with a sign on the back of long vehicles that said, traîn routiers, which translated means road train. Just looking at your dimensions here your maximum is 25 metres for overall length, yet I've seen vehicles on our highways that are much longer than that without signage here, in Nova Scotia. I'm just wondering, is it feasible to get a similar sign, in English of course, on our highways here?
MR. BOYD: Most of the responsible carriers out there today want to identify their vehicles as long vehicles. Twenty-five metres is the maximum length. We understand some of the provinces have permitted longer lengths, I think up to 26.5 metres. From what I can gather, those vehicles are to carry some signage on them to designate them as long vehicles, depending on the permit requirements.
If you are 25 metres or under, I'm not quite sure if there is legislation that does require you to identify that but I think most of the responsible companies - you'll see a number of the chip operators because you'll see van loads of chips in B-train configuration that will have 25 metre signs on the back.
MR. PARKER: Some B-trains though are longer than that, aren't they?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we'll come back again, you're a little over your time. Mr. Taylor.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you to our guests for coming in and enlightening the committee this morning.
In Nova Scotia alone, as you know - I want to say the government, but - the government did have some input and some responsibility in insurance companies having hiring policies. Now that age cannot be considered, in Nova Scotia at least, for insurance policies, will there be an increase in hiring drivers under the age of 25? Has there been?
MR. BOYD: You've raised a very interesting point. While insurance is regulated within the Province of Nova Scotia, it is not regulated on a commercial basis. In actual fact, if you compare us to the automobile insurance industry, we're under far more pressure than the automobile users. Automobile users enjoy from province to province somewhere in the area of 40 to 60 insurance companies to choose from. In Canada, we have four. There are four companies in Canada that are willing to cover a trucking company, its fleet of trucks and drivers. Because there is a limited offering within Canada, we do see the restrictions you spoke of, Mr. Taylor, in the aspect that drivers have to be a minimum age.
What most companies will tell you today is they will look at the particular company and look at its loss ratio, its on-road performance, its safety practices, whether it has a gentleman like Mr. Miller, who is a safety professional, a director of safety within a company, and how that company operates. From time to time they will permit Mr. Miller to take drivers who are under the age threshold. Will they allow him to put his whole complement of drivers under the age of 25? Likely not, but they will look at the company and try to balance it out and that's what we're finding.
One of the difficulties that we have, even with four companies providing trucking insurance in Canada, most carriers, any time they are looking to renew their insurance policy, might have two, maximum three, companies bidding for their business so it does have some difficulties. We could utilize younger people within our industry more across the board if we could get around that. How we could get around that is, at this point in time, I think our only answer is to see more players within the insurance business.
MR. TAYLOR: It's really too bad that more insurance companies don't agree to insure the commercial carrier. Consequently, young people are still - as far as I'm concerned - being discriminated against as far as seeking jobs in the trucking industry and it's a real shame that we do have that shortage.
Mr. Boyd, earlier on in your presentation you mentioned about longer configurations being permitted on our four-lane highways. For the sake of argument, I'll say that the American Trucking Association, for example, takes offence to that position. They claim that there are safety concerns with the longer configuration in braking, maintaining speed, and speed differential. As well, they claim road maintenance increases, there is job loss and the lighter loads that they haul enable them to run their suspensions, their tires, everything related to the truck, for a longer duration and consequently, it's cheaper - cheaper per load, of course, for fuel but perhaps not in the overall context. I'm wondering if that position is underpinned by the fact there is a driver shortage, or is it based on other economies of scale that the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association would be behind that initiative?
MR. BOYD: We're very much in support of utilizing the infrastructure that we presently have and to become more productive. Just to your first point, LCVs in Canada - when I talk about an LCV, I'm talking about a tractor with two, 53-foot trailers behind it, or a combination of a 53-foot and 48-foot trailer - primarily now operated in the Province of Quebec is the closest province. They have an excellent on-road safety record because of a number of factors.
First of all, you must have been driving a commercial vehicle safely for a certain number of years before you can qualify to be an LCV driver. LCVs only operate at certain times of the year and are restricted by weather conditions. So Quebec has an excellent record, it's probably the safest vehicle on the highway in the Province of Quebec now, so that's about the closest example I can give you in that aspect.
You know, we do differ from our American counterparts, in their vision of LCV. They are suffering through a driver shortage, I would say that it is very similar to ours but I don't think it has gotten to the point that it is, let's say, hitting home in the productivity side of it. Recently, the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented rules under which LCV drivers will be qualified, so I can tell you that the American industry is beginning to look at this issue. I think, in Canada, we're far more advanced.
Is there more wear and tear on our highways? I would say that at this point the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association has been in support of the Atlantic Canada Guide to Weights and Dimensions on Common Configurations. What we're asking for is not much different than the common configurations standards that we have today. What we're talking about is the elimination of an additional tractor and a driver, which has some 10 wheels which will be on the pavement and will be wearing the pavement. If you have two trucks
running in tandem, you will have a greater wear factor than if you have one truck and two trailers.
We're not talking about tractors with the ability, initially, to start to haul two trailers weighing 26,000 kilograms apiece. I think what we're looking at is trailers that have the ability to haul more cube, because there are lighter loads that are travelling on our highways that are still going in a single-unit configuration, and we think if they put them in a train configuration, as Mr. Parker pointed out earlier, the French translation of our road train, I think makes a whole lot of sense out there. Again, better utilization of our infrastructure without impacting the integrity of the infrastructure that we presently have, that's what we're in support of.
MR. TAYLOR: In the membership of the APTA, how many owner-operators would there be? When I say owner-operators I don't mean owner-operators under a broker, working for a company, how many individual owner-operators with maybe one or two rigs would be members?
MR. BOYD: We have approximately 50 owner-operator members. Many of those owner-operator members have been members of the association for in excess of 15 years. They are the unique individuals out there, I have to say, who have an insight into this industry that carriers sometimes don't enjoy. Many of them work for our carrier members, but they feel very strongly about their industry. They're true entrepreneurs and have been very successful at conducting their business.
MR. TAYLOR: Just on the hours of service, the distinction between the U.S. and Canada, could you briefly make that for the committee?
MR. BOYD: Yes, there is a fair bit of distinction between ourselves and the Americans. Just to give you a comparison of where we're at - it will just take me two seconds here to get to my chart because I don't want to leave any stone unturned. The new U.S. hours of service, driving has been increased from 10 hours of driving to 11 hours of driving. The Canadian regulations, currently it's 13 hours of driving, and we're proposing to stay at 13 hours of driving. The maximum on-duty time in the U.S. was previously 15 hours and has been reduced to 14 hours. So 11 of those hours can be driving and three hours can be other duties. In Canada, currently it's 15 hours, we're proposing to go down to 14 hours of which 13 hours will be driving and one hour of other duties.
The minimum number of off-duty hours under the U.S. regulations is 10 hours in a 24-hour period, and in Canada we're proposing 10 hours in a 24-hour period, which would be broken up into two hours which can be broken down into little amounts of one-half hour and one eight-hour solid anchored block of rest in a 24-hour period. We are looking for split-sleeper birth provisions similar to the U.S. Presently under discussion in Canada has been the 16-hour working window in comparison to the 18-hour working window. We have
withdrawn, as a provincial and national association, the request on 18 hours, we've now reduced it to a 16-hour working window. The American working window is presently 14 hours against 11 hours of driving. Ours will be 16 hours against 13 hours of driving. So there are some similarities.
Our cycles will change dramatically. Presently there are now three cycles in the country. We will be reducing to 70 hours in seven days, or 120 hours in 14 days. The American cycle right now is 60 hours in seven days. There will be a reset provision in Canada, hopefully similar to the U.S. In the U.S. it's a 34-hour reset, when a driver can turn his clock back to zero and start out fresh again. In Canada we have been proposing 36 hours, but because of compatibility requirements with the U.S., we may look at reducing that to a 34-hour reset.
We're going to have some very similar, as we move forward, hopefully by 2006, hours of service work between Canada and the U.S., and it will probably be the first time in some 60 or 70 years that we've had that compatibility.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We'll turn the questions over to Mr. Parent.
MR. MARK PARENT: My first question was going to be on the hours of service, but it was covered fairly adequately. I just wanted to ask a question in terms of the proposed changes. Is it a problem for independent truck owners? I was reading an article on a fellow in Berwick, near my riding, who's concerned about the effect it will have on his ability to make a profit and to determine his trucking hours. Is there a concern there?
MR. BOYD: I think we're dealing with a little bit of an unknown, until we have those hours and we can get out there and see, from an operational standpoint, what are going to be the impediments. I think everybody is dealing much the way that most Americans dealt with the hours of service change which came about in January of this year in the U.S. I think initially there's a lot of concern about productivity and the ability to make the same wage as what you're making today. We have those concerns as a carrier representative group, and I know Mr. Miller and his principals within his company have those concerns as well. I can only look back at what's happened in the United States.
There was a tremendous concern that productivity was going to be hampered, the ability of the industry to maintain its present workforce, but I would say, at this point, I think we've seen some of those myths lessened. I think in the United States they're very happy with the migration to the new hours of service. So I would be hopeful that we would have that similar experience here in Canada, but I really can't answer that question until such time as the rules are in place and we're beginning to operate.
I can assure you that if we hamper the ability of our workers to maintain their quality of life and standard of living, as an industry we're going to be in a really difficult situation. Not only that, the economy is going to be impacted. I think it's something we have to march forward on and have to be watchful of. If there is going to be an impact, then I think we have to be prepared to take the bull by the horns and lessen that impact and try to right the ship, as one would say.
MR. PARENT: The national highway program, which you referenced as one of the main concerns you have, what has your industry done to help promote this issue, and what are the roadblocks that you see towards getting a national highway program in place?
MR. BOYD: As a regional association, I think we've always been in support of our government's seeking more of the federal purse. That $2 billion that annually goes into the federal coffers, of which only a few hundred million dollars comes back out to go into infrastructure, I think it's imperative that we get our federal government onside. I think our provincial governments are doing a reasonable job in investing almost every dollar that they collect from road use taxes, whether it be from registrations or fuels, to improve their highway situation. But I think we really have to look at the whole system throughout Canada, and make a list of priorities, and begin to work on those priorities. I think it has to be in partnership, let's say the provincial and municipal governments along with the federal government, to enhance our infrastructure.
We have recently spoken directly with the Minister of Transport, Jean Lapierre, in a proposal that the industry as a whole - and I'm talking the industry, I'm talking the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the federation of provincial associations and its 4,500 carriers across the country - is quite willing to sit down with the Minister of Transport to work on some funding mechanism to assist, to enhance our national highway infrastructure. I think it's imperative if we're going to be successful as a trading nation and continue to enhance our lifestyle and our well-being. At some point in time we have to put the money forth, we have to make those expenditures.
MR. PARENT: Just very quickly on that, one of the issues, and this is a very small question but one that intrigues me a little bit from your perspective, one of the reasons I pushed so strongly for the twinning of Highway No. 101 is not only safety - that is paramount - but also the economic linkage that we need. It's just imperative, and of course the two coincide, when you have a bunch of trucks and commuters on the road that can't handle that volume.
One of the stretches on Highway No. 101, and it is being twinned, not nearly as quickly as I would like to see, but it's moving ahead, has concrete on it. One of the complaints I get, always from passenger cars, about trucks on roads, are the ruts in the asphalt, and they feel that's caused by trucks, I have no idea whether it is or not. What is your perspective on concrete on our highways from a trucker's perspective?
MR. BOYD: We only have one short stretch of concrete we have experience with in Nova Scotia. We have experience with concrete highways in New Brunswick, Highway No. 11 up the north coast, a very, very bad experience with concrete highways. It was not the technology that was utilized in the small stretch that's through the Cobequid Pass, or I think it's just shortly after the Cobequid Pass area, but I think it has its benefits.
The difficulties that we have in building concrete highways is the length of time in which it takes to build a concrete highway in comparison to laying an asphalt highway. It does take some additional technology and additional time in order to build those. I don't think our argument is as much between whether we would like concrete or asphalt highways, we would just like to have smoother highways as quickly as possible.
I will address one point that you did raise, Mr. Parent, and that was the aspect of our roads rutting. We live in a very northern climate. I think the specifications at which we build highways are admirable specifications but I think at times we feel that because we live in a northerly climate, that we should be able to haul excessive weights. I will be honest with you, our association was the association that got most forcefully behind the development of the Atlantic Canada Guide to Weights and Dimensions on Common Configurations, but I do have difficulty with trucking in other sectors.
I will raise this point and I know there may be some people a little sour at me for raising this point, but 100,000 pounds of Cornflakes, 100,000 pounds of gold bars, and 100,000 pounds of logs are all exactly alike, they all weigh 100,000 pounds. But if you have 100,000 pounds of Cornflakes travelling up and down the highway, or 100,000 of gold bars, and then you have 110,000 pounds of logs travelling, I don't understand the differential between allowing certain sectors within the trucking community to enjoy higher weights, simply because they're hauling a resource-based product, and because they can't wrestle with the whole issue of governing their weights, I have a real difficulty with that.
One thing I will point out, south of the border the interstate highway system built during the Eisenhower years was built on a specification that 136,000 pounds was the largest vehicle at that time that could be placed on a transport truck and hauled. On the interstate today, they're hauling 80,000 pounds and they have hauled 80,000 pounds since they built the system, the system was built to handle a certain weight. Do they on occasion have to haul something heavier than 80,000 pounds? Yes, they do, but they understand the specifications and the thresholds that they're dealing with.
One of the most difficult groups that we deal with is the shipping community, they're constantly pushing at the industry to haul heavier weights, haul longer vehicles, haul more cube, haul this, haul that. Well now we, as an industry, are taking a stand and saying, we support the governments in their efforts to establish common configurations. If I have to haul 100,000 pounds and that's my maximum weight, then anybody who is hauling fish, forestry, rock, whatever it is, they are all governed at 100,000 pounds and we'll eliminate that rutting
that we see on our highway if our specifications are good and sound and we govern our highways during our Spring weight restrictions. I have to say that Nova Scotia does an admirable job of that.
MR. PARENT: I'll come back in round two.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Dooks.
MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: I would like to thank you, gentlemen, for coming today and I would like to thank your industry for what it contributes to our economy. Just on a point of clarification, are you talking here just about long-haul vehicles? Are we talking about ordinary dump trucks, oil truck drivers, are they involved in your association, or just long-haul trucks?
MR. BOYD: Primarily our association is for-hire carriage truckers. Some of them are involved in the aggregate industry, some of them are involved in the forestry industry, we have a good cross-section of members. Primarily, we are the freight movers within the region, we are the people who are moving food product and consumable goods.
MR. DOOKS: With long hauling, what would a trucker expect to receive per kilometre for his service, regardless if he owns, operates or whatever? What is the average pay for a long hauler to receive for hauling goods?
MR. MILLER: It does vary quite considerably depending on where you run, what you do. I'll give you some statistics that we can use personally. A brand-new student out of school will be in the $35,000 a year range. When he learns a little more about how to be on schedule, how to get to where he should be on time, think ahead, plan his routes a little better, he will make $45,000. As he progresses through our pay system and his career, he'll make $55,000 and I have probably a half-dozen to eight guys this year who will earn $65,000-plus. They are individuals who like to work and for one reason or another they don't want to stay home and when you send them home for the weekend they're back asking to be back at work. (Laughter) So there is the opportunity there to earn a very good lifestyle and it really is one of the jobs that if you want to have a good work ethic and be smart about what you do, you can earn a very good living.
MR. DOOKS: But like in most industries, if you want to put your best foot forward you're rewarded monetarily. Getting back to your major issues, border security, obviously that's an issue and you have it as a No. 1 issue. I would think that you're concerned about the time lost while a truck is waiting at the border. You talked about french fry trucks being searched, well with what is taking place in the world and security being very important for both nations, what do you think the solution would be surrounding this, or do you think your trucks should be checked at all?
MR. BOYD: I think our trucks should be checked but there are a number of programs that are in place, bilateral programs between the U.S. and Canada right now. There are a number of programs such as FAST, which is Free and Secure Trade, in which a carrier like Dave's would register all of his drivers and there would be background checks and so on. They would be issued an identification card and in his case the carriage company, Eassons, would file a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian and U.S. authorities in which they would become accredited as a C-TPAT carrier.
The difficulty that we have in the North American marketplace, in order to expedite the movement of goods, we have to have three factors take place: the driver must be a FAST registered driver - in other words going through the background checks; an accredited carrier must have gone through the scrutiny of the U.S. and Canadian authorities under the C-TPAT. As well, the shipper of the goods has to become C-TPAT accredited. What we're finding with a lot of shippers of goods, they simply have not bought into these new programs that will allow an expeditious movement of goods between the two countries.
What the American and Canadian authorities are attempting to do is identify those people who are low risk. We, as carriage companies, because we cross the international border on a regular basis, we know the value of time and we don't want to be delayed. The problem that we're having today is many of the carriers and our drivers are gearing up to meet these new challenges at the borders, while the shippers, processors and manufacturers of goods are not buying into these programs and what's happening is it's creating delays for us at the border.
We've spent a lot of time and effort becoming involved in these bilateral programs because we know the importance of moving through the border effectively. The problem is it has not been conveyed to our customers, and I can tell you, the last person our customers are going to listen to is the carrier who carries their goods, who may be the person who has the answer for them but they're not going to listen to them because there has always been kind of a love-hate relationship with the shipping community. They love us when we're on time and we bring the goods in quality condition, but they kind of dislike us when we put the bill on the table and say, this is the cost of our service and well, that's too much. At some point in time we need to have all parties involved to become more familiar with that international border. It has changed tremendously since 9/11 and is even going to change more so as we move down the road.
Do I think our people should be examined? Yes, they should, but if you have a reputable shipper who is identified as a C-TPAT shipper, who places a seal on a load of goods and it arrives at the border with a FAST driver and a C-TPAT accredited carrier, I will tell you, they will get the green light and they will be able to deliver expeditiously. The problem we have right now is we can't get the shipping community to buy into the necessity
of becoming involved with these programs. They're producing widgets in Whycocomagh, that's what they're interested in, but they're forgetting, they're selling to a North American marketplace and maybe to a global marketplace and the whole environment has changed. We need to educate those people and they don't take education well from their service provider - can I say that much? - but we need to encourage more involvement.
MR. DOOKS: The appropriate scenario, I guess, would be to load up in Nova Scotia and go south of the border, unload and be lucky enough to have a load to come back to Nova Scotia, that's when you make the money. In saying that, are you having more difficulty crossing from Canada into the United States, or more difficulty getting out of the United States back into Canada?
MR. BOYD: We're having more difficulty going from Canada into the U.S., though I will tell you many of our drivers would argue, they're Canadian citizens and they have more difficulty getting back into their own country, but I would say the focus is entry into the U.S. You have the Food and Drug Administration right now that really wants to look at all foodstuffs going across the border.
On last night's news I watched an article that said the citizens are very concerned about their supply of food in the U.S. and they want that food product stamped and if it's made in Canada they want to know where it originates from. They want those goods inspected at the border before they go into consumers' hands.
As long as we still have those barriers, if I may say - and I'm not looking at solid barriers but there are restrictions there - we are going to have some difficulties. The BSE beef crisis in this country. Mr. Bush was in Ottawa a short time ago and had a fine dinner of Alberta beef. He seems to be whole, he doesn't seem to have failed and fallen down so, I mean, we're in a North American marketplace. I know that border has changed but we need to become better partners, better than we were before.
Mr. Bush came to Nova Scotia to thank Nova Scotians, but he didn't really thank them for all of the things that they offered to Americans. If you go to the Boston fish market today, almost everything that is fresh for the taking came from the waters off Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. We need to get beyond what has been created - by nobody in North America, it has been created outside North America - and we have to begin to trust one another a little bit more.
MR. DOOKS: Are we losing product because we're waiting on the border? Do you have evidence of truckers losing their load of whatever because of the time delay?
MR. BOYD: Well, I haven't heard of a loss of a load but I will say this much, if you have fresh fish destined for the Boston market, a few hours in difference can make a change of whether it's fresh fish or - well, I'll put it to you this way, today's plate or tomorrow's bait, that's how crucial it is.
MR. MILLER: One of the things we do see, specifically with the U.S. hours of service and the Canadian hours of service, is that our routes are tight, our schedules are so down to the minute that if you spend an extra couple of hours at the border, that may mean the difference between you getting to where you're going or you getting to a couple of hours from where you're going.
MR. DOOKS: Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Wilson.
MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Many of my questions have already been asked so I won't repeat those. Some of the concerns, I'm sure, with the trucking industry are the increased costs of delivering the service. As we see for private vehicles, insurance rates have skyrocketed over the last while. Have you seen the same rate increases with only the four insurance companies providing policies for the trucking industry?
MR. BOYD: How I would love to be a citizen and be able to have 40 or 60 companies to choose from to get insurance. If the private citizen - and I'm a private citizen, I buy car insurance and I'll tell you I was astonished what I had to pay for car insurance, but you want to sit with some of our members. I'll use an example that Mr. Parker raised about his fine constituents. I have two carriers there, Mr. Battist and Mr. MacDonald. Mr. Battist chooses to work in the Canadian environment and he saw a 50 per cent increase in insurance. I look at Mr. MacDonald, who runs King Freight Lines, and he chooses to deal in the international market where he probably saw an increase of 100 per cent and probably not only with that, he saw himself have to take more financial responsibility for his company; in other words, he saw his deductibles go from $5,000 to $25,000, maybe to $50,000.
There are all kinds of horror stories within our industry. In fact, I hate to even say this but I'll say it anyway and be frank about it, if the governments are worried about the number of citizens who are operating automobiles on our highways today without adequate automobile insurance, they want to maybe look at a few trucking interests that are out there as well. I will tell you, when your insurance has gone up 100 per cent, or it has gone up to the point that an insurance company will carry you for a premium but that premium is so far advanced that they would just simply say, no, I'll deal with it in my own manner and attempt to operate their business. You get an insurance card from an insurance industry, make your filings with the National Safety Code people within Nova Scotia, continue to operate your business and cancel your insurance the next day. We know that those things exist our there, we just hope they don't hit the front page of the paper in a major accident.
Insurance, fuel, cost of equipment, cost of labour, I'll give you one little example, the cost of tires. The cost of tires last year, a 7 per cent increase in tires. We have 18 of them on most tractor-trailers and they wear out rather quickly. So there's not a cost - as I said to Mr. Taylor when he first entered the room this morning - within our industry in the last 24 months that has not gone up, and we have had no choice but to pass it on to the users of our service.
I'll give you an example in fuel. Fuel surcharge today is around 15.5 per cent, so on a $1,000 freight bill, it's another $157 and change. If we look at that compared to 14, 15 months ago, it's probably a 50 per cent increase in the fuel surcharge and we have no choice but to pass that on because without fuel, we can't operate our businesses. It's rising at such a rate that we just can't build it into a freight rate, we have to add it now as a surcharge.
Many things that you'll see coming down the road - I know I won't be popular but I'll throw this one out - toll bills. Mr. Miller, what would it have cost your company for tolls last year to operate on the Cobequid Pass.
MR. MILLER: Between $75,000 and $80,000.
MR. BOYD: That's a 100-truck fleet, that's a large number, that's right off your bottom line. Now, can we pass that along to our customer? We're trying to pass that along in the form of a rate but as I said earlier, our customer doesn't want to see rate increases but we have some costs that are just totally getting out of control.
Someone asked a question earlier about wages. I just recently attended a function where I met the president of the most successful trucking company in North America. On average, the Canadian operating ratio is about 94 per cent to 95 per cent. His operating ratio in the U.S. was 78 per cent. I asked him one question, what do you anticipate that you will be paying your truck drivers before the end of this year - this was back in early November - and facing 2005? What is the rate that you're going to be paying your truck drivers? He said the base rate will be $65,000 U.S., that's a pretty big dollar for what we, in Canada, view as an unskilled worker. That seems kind of unusual, I didn't realize unskilled workers were getting paid those dollars. They are more skilled and recognized as professionals in the U.S. It's kind of a roundabout way to answer your question.
MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): No, that's good, you actually answered a couple of the questions I was going to ask you. So I guess I can anticipate your answer of a potential toll highway that has been rumoured for another access into the city, here. Over the years they looked at another connector from Highway No. 102 into Burnside Industrial Park, which I'm sure has many, if not hundreds of thousands of trucks, travelling into the city on a yearly basis, what are your views on a potential toll highway into the city, which I predict would be a faster, safer, easier route into the city?
MR. MILLER: It's hard to gather up enough efficiencies from a toll highway to pay a $75,000 toll bill, to be quite honest. Anything that we can do to get us in and out quicker, safer, more efficiently, I'm all for that. At the end of the day when you look at the balance sheet, if it does cost you $75,000 to do that and you don't gain that back in efficiencies, that's a cost that someone is going to have to bear. There's not enough profit margin in the trucking industry. We're looking at an industry where a good, profitable trucking company might return 4 per cent. When you start to chisel away at your bottom line, it doesn't take long for that 4 per cent to get eaten up.
MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): So your company would look at probably $150,000 on toll charges if there was a Burnside toll and the Cobequid Pass?
MR. MILLER: Yes, assuming the two were equal.
MR. BOYD: If I may make a point on the toll highway. Infrastructure - and I look at highway infrastructure - is much like our educational system, much like our medical system within this country. I think it should be enjoyed by all citizens and at an equal cost. For example - I'll use toll highways in the United States - in the U.S. there are toll highways, but for users of those toll highways we are not forced to pay fuel tax, so there is a tradeoff, and maintain those efficiencies, but not efficiencies at additional cost, we're not looking at that.
When the toll highway was developed in Nova Scotia, if the option had been given to the industry to utilize the highway and save your fuel tax money, that would have been a given. But one of the problems that happened in Nova Scotia was we were legislated to use it because the partnership that was entered into, there was only one way that the partners were going to get return, and that was if they had a captive audience. We became the captive audience. I will say I was kind of hopeful that I might have seen another individual in the room this morning, unfortunately, that individual isn't here.
We know right now that there have been substantial dollars gathered on that particular highway. Those monies are sitting in an account somewhere. Reduce the debt, eliminate the future increases, reduce the length of the term, do something. I would think that it is an impediment to the economy of Nova Scotia, in comparison to New Brunswick. For example, New Brunswick citizens made a very conscious decision not to support toll highways. The government, during the election process, a particular Party had supported the elimination of tolls and they became the elected government. I don't think New Brunswick is worse off because they eliminated their toll highway, I think they're better off, economically, because it has made a lot of enhancements.
I can tell you, there's not a citizen that doesn't travel that Fredericton to Moncton corridor - which I travel almost on a weekly basis - that doesn't say to themselves, what took us 25 years to get here? We're quite an open industry, we're a large taxpayer and we deal in business every day, we make decisions. For governments to enter into agreements without
consultation of maybe a large customer, such as ourselves, it's unfortunate. Hopefully, we can work our way out of it.
MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): With the increase seen in gasoline in the last several years, I know that diesel fuel is cheaper, but have you seen the same trends or increases with diesel fuel as we've seen with gasoline?
MR. BOYD: I would actually have to say that we've seen some astonishing things as far as diesel is concerned. Diesel is a derivative of bulk product but historically has always been three or four cents lower than regular gasoline. That margin has closed on several occasions and there actually have been occasions when diesel has been higher priced than regular gasoline. Without diesel, we can't move goods and without reasonably priced diesel, the cost of our service just escalates.
MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I would hope with the possibility of future tolls - which I hope we don't see any of, I would rather see them take that off - that your industry would definitely be one of the interest groups that would be contacted. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You and Mr. Taylor are doing pretty good on stretching time. Mr. Epstein.
MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I also wanted to ask some questions about some of your expenses and I guess insurance and fuel are the two that I'd like to focus on and I wonder if you could help me understand something, although I think you might have indicated some of the answer. It seems clear that when expenses go up, you can either just pass them on to your customers and say, if expenses go up that's fine, my customers are going to pay it, or if you get resistance from your customers then you have to do something about it yourself. What I was wondering is whether you could tell us a bit more about the picture with respect to both insurance and fuel? For fuel, you seem to have indicated that it seems to be standard in the industry now that there is a fuel surcharge so the answer there is you just pass it on to the customers? Is that the basic picture?
[10:15 a.m. Mr. Brooke Taylor took the Chair.]
MR. BOYD: That's basically what we have to do. What we also have to do is be more cognizant of our use of fuel. We've been doing a lot of education within our industry with regard to fuel conservation and in regard to speed control devices, to govern our trucks. I spoke to Mr. Taylor briefly as he entered the room this morning, we were the only regional association, the only provincial association in Canada that approached our government a couple of years ago to reduce the speed on four lane highways.
We wanted the speed on four lane highways reduced for all commercial vehicles to 100 kilometres per hour. The first reason is it improves safety and second of all, it improves conservation of fuel, simply from the standpoint that a diesel engine gets its maximum productivity out of a gallon of diesel when operating at 100 kilometres or less. From a safety standpoint it improves safety immensely. Could we get our government to buy into it? No, they were not interested in buying into it simply because they felt that safety would be encroached on our highways if you had passenger vehicles travelling at a faster speed than commercial vehicles. That's the reality out there today because something like 56 per cent of commercial vehicles still operate at 100 kilometres or less because those companies have decided to govern their vehicles, simply because they want to get maximum productivity out of a gallon of diesel.
They are asking their customer to pay a 15 per cent fuel surcharge but the customer is saying, I don't want to catch your trucks on the road passing me when I'm driving my car on the highway. So if you're going to ask for the money, in return you better receive the money and utilize it responsibly by governing your trucks and controlling your fuel.
MR. EPSTEIN: Can you tell us how fuel is provided to the trucking industry in the Atlantic Provinces? Is it a pure arm's length commercial transaction in which the trucking companies deal with commercial sellers, or is there any banding together by the trucking companies in order to provide fuel to themselves?
MR. MILLER: If we're going to talk banding together, it's an awful coincidence that all the gas prices go up on the same day.
MR. EPSTEIN: It's okay, I'm not speaking on behalf of the gasoline industry.
MR. MILLER: Unfortunately, I wish we could all get together, hug and agree on one price of diesel fuel and buy in bulk for the whole industry. The fact is we can't, we all negotiate our best deals possible and I guess in a free economy, we run 100 and some-odd trucks and purchase a fair amount of diesel fuel, as you can imagine. We negotiate the best rate we can, based on the amount of volume that we think we're going to buy and hope that we do better than the next guy, to be quite honest.
MR. EPSTEIN: So the trucking industry deals with the retailers, you don't import on your own?
MR. MILLER: No.
MR. EPSTEIN: You don't buy direct from the refinery?
MR. MILLER: No.
MR. BOYD: I will maybe clarify that a bit. I have to choose my words carefully here. Mr. Irving operates a very large refinery. He also operates three very large trucking companies and I will just leave it at that.
MR. EPSTEIN: So far, we looked at some fuels but we didn't talk about others like ethanol, methanol and propane and those are available. I'm wondering to what extent they are being used in the Atlantic Provinces and what you see as the pros and cons?
MR. BOYD: I would have to say almost non-use of those alternate fuels for a variety of reasons: availability; distribution; performance of those fuels; and cost of those fuels. In Atlantic Canada we're a little bit behind in the technology that we've seen in other areas of North America. For example, many of those alternate fuels that you just mentioned are being
looked at in the western provinces where there seems to be an abundant supply of ethanol and there's some mixing and matching of fuels. In Atlantic Canada we have not enjoyed that ability. The technology and propane, especially in a Class 8 heavy vehicle, hauling 100,000 pounds of weight, there's a lot of performance issues and so on.
While we have looked at that, as a national organization, from a regional standpoint we've not given it a whole lot of consideration for those factors I mentioned earlier.
MR. EPSTEIN: The other part of your cost issues I was interested in was insurance. Fuel, you told us, you could essentially treat as a surcharge item but what about insurance? What's the picture there?
MR. BOYD: Some of our carriers have implemented a surcharge in insurance. Across the board it has not been, let's say, a banner that the industry has carried widely. Insurance is a very unique acquisition of a carriage company. The cost of insurance has a lot to do with your on-road performance, the type of commodities that you carry, the lanes in which you travel, if you travel internationally or domestically, so it's unique to each company what premiums they might pay.
I would say overall insurance has gone up but more so if you're transporting fuel product, for instance, which is very hazardous and you're travelling on the international market. You are probably paying about the highest premium that is going but then what could lessen that premium is the quality of your driver pool, the safety worthiness of your equipment and so on.
MR. EPSTEIN: I think I understand the factors, what I'm wondering is this, it's clearly an item that's of importance, in terms of your expenses. It's an item that you have difficulty passing on to your customers and there are only, apparently, four companies that really you're dealing with. So I'm wondering whether the trucking industry - either in a subset like the Atlantic Provinces or nationally in the country - has looked at setting up its own insurance company. Has that been explored?
MR. MILLER: As a matter of fact, yes. There are some movements underway to set up what's called a captive co-op and to get together. The problem is that you want to be the worst one in the co-op and everybody else better than you, that's a hard group to select. The real problem with passing insurance on as a surcharge is it's not as volatile as fuel. You know this year what your insurance cost is going to be so any rates that you negotiate, you try to negotiate your insurance cost into that rate. It doesn't go up tomorrow and it doesn't go up the day after, hopefully - that being said, with the four on the market they can pretty much do what they want - it doesn't go up and fluctuate like the cost of fuel, so that's probably why you don't see it as a surcharge.
MR. EPSTEIN: So it is being discussed, but so far what's the situation . . .
MR. MILLER: It is being discussed but it is a very large undertaking, to be quite honest, to have the policies and procedures set up to do that. Beyond that you would still have to go out and buy an umbrella policy, different insurances because you wouldn't be entirely self-insured. If one of the members of your group had a catastrophic incident, for example, the whole group could not support them.
MR. EPSTEIN: Yes, I think that's what reinsurance companies are for. In any event, I'm glad to hear it's being discussed. I have one other quick question. At one point when you were discussing the environmental aspects of trucking, you made the point about reduced sulphur in your fuels. You did a bit of a comparison with a train as a freight hauler, but it wasn't clear to me that this was necessarily a complete comparison. I'm wondering if you can direct us to sources where we can read up on a comparative basis of truck versus train in terms of haulage of goods?
The reason I ask this is that I have frequently seen in commentary by environmental organizations that look at transportation issues, the suggestion that it's more fuel efficient to use train than it is to use truck. When I see your point made about the emissions, I see it as emissions, I think, per litre and it's not so clear to me that it's emissions per pound of goods hauled so it's that that I'm looking at. I'm wondering if, subsequent to today, since we're under some severe time constraints, you might direct us toward some sources that we could read that might do this kind of comparison?
MR. BOYD: If you would be so kind to give me your card as we leave, that would be terrific. We have a senior staffer within the Canadian Trucking Alliance who has worked totally in the area of environment and he would be only too glad to provide you the information that you're looking for.
But just as a comment, truck versus rail, on average the age of a Canadian truck is five years or less. The locomotive population within Canada is 20 years or more, so there's a substantial difference in the technologies. As we migrate to 2006-07 engines, probably by 2010, 2011, 2012, we'll almost see a total turnover of the Canadian truck for-hire carriage
equipment to move to the new technologies and if you look at rail, it's a much longer cycle than that. The public sees trucks every day because they're travelling beside them on the highway. The public doesn't necessarily see the rail because rail is fairly well removed from the general public. If you look at their contribution to the environmental state that we're in, they have a tremendous contribution and there is really very little regulation governing the fuel or type of equipment that is used by the rail industry, in comparison to the trucking industry. We are very regulated.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Epstein. Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I would like to follow up on that particular issue. I'm advised that the equivalent of one boxcar would be approximately 10 tractor-trailers. Would that be a fair assessment in terms of . . .
MR. MILLER: I'm trying to remember the last time I was in a boxcar. It would very much depend on the commodity being hauled and the density.
MR. MACKINNON: On average?
MR. MILLER: I can't tell you.
MR. MACKINNON: That was the figure that was used when the . . .
MR. BOYD: I'll be honest with you, sir, if that's a figure that has been presented, I don't have the data to dispute it right now. I'll say that there is a difference but whether it is 10 times, I can't really tell you.
MR. MACKINNON: That was the figure that was used when they privatized the CN service on Cape Breton Island.
MR. BOYD: On Cape Breton Island it could very well have been the calculation that was used.
MR. MACKINNON: Has the Trucking Association, in conjunction with the provincial governments, done any risk assessments on the 100-Series Highways in the individual provinces? I noticed you indicated you have approximately 1,100 firms, trucking operations. Does your association have any indication as to what 100-Series Highways are up to standard and which ones are not so that you can better inform your membership as to what routes to take and what routes not to take?
MR. MILLER: I think the flow of information almost goes the other way around. Our membership that is using the road every day are the ones that feed the sites of concern to our committee. We do try to address those with the different levels of government if there is a specific site of concern.
MR. BOYD: We are not only out there watching out for our own people, we're also watching out for the motoring public because I can assure you, the motoring public and the trucking industry have to share our road space but there are always difficulties that we encounter throughout the Atlantic Region and we try to address those. Again, many of our members go right into the very smallest of communities within Nova Scotia so we see roadways from a different perspective than maybe the motoring public does.
MR. MACKINNON: Yes, I appreciate that. So what would you say was the single largest benefit in the establishment of the Cobequid Pass, aside from your concern about the toll?
MR. BOYD: I would say that probably the single largest benefit is the division of the traffic in the direction they're travelling. In other words, you have your east and west travelling, they are now divided by a meridian or a median. I think that has lessened the likelihood of a head-on collision and I think that was probably one of the factors that we were very supportive of, given the carnage that occurred on the Folly Lake Highway.
I must preface that by saying, we went from what we thought was severe grading in the Folly Lake area to much more severe grading on the Cobequid Pass, than what we had experienced before, and we also experienced far more heavier weather conditions on the Cobequid Pass than we did in the Folly Lake area. Again, I don't know if I can really explain this properly but I think we all knew what to expect in Folly Lake but I don't necessarily think we knew what to expect in Cobequid.
MR. MACKINNON: I think it would be fair to say the latest annual report that just came out on the Cobequid Pass indicates that the single largest benefit is the reduction in the number of deaths. You mentioned a figure of $75,000 or whatever, and that's just one trucking company. How much do you pay to use the bridges every year?
MR. MILLER: To be honest, very little.
MR. MACKINNON: Well what's very little? It's a relative term.
MR. MILLER: Yes, you're correct. I honestly can't give you a figure. Most of our vehicles don't travel the bridges.
MR. MACKINNON: Approximately 400 boxcars come out of the container terminals here every year, of which a large percentage are shipped out of province. If you took the total number of trucks, what percentage are owned by Nova Scotia operations, what percentage are from New Brunswick, and so on? Do you have a breakdown?
MR. BOYD: I would say that of our member companies, about 30 to 35 per cent of our membership is based in Nova Scotia.
MR. MACKINNON: So what percentage is in New Brunswick?
MR. BOYD: The percentage in New Brunswick is probably about 40 per cent, I would say, just about.
MR. MACKINNON: Of your total membership?
MR. BOYD: Total membership. We have a very small membership within Newfoundland and Labrador, basically because there are very few Newfoundland and Labrador based trucking companies. One of the biggest reasons why they're not based there is they only have one insurance company to deal with.
MR. MACKINNON: So what about the other 25 per cent?
MR. BOYD: The other 25 per cent, P.E.I. would make up a portion of that and we do have some membership out of the Province of Ontario and the Province of Quebec, a very small membership.
MR. MACKINNON: One of the biggest concerns here in Nova Scotia is the standard of the roads, they're not as to the extent that they are, for example, in New Brunswick. New Brunswick has been very successful in negotiating some federal-provincial agreements. You kept using the figure of $2 billion, well in Atlantic Canada that works out to about $120 million for your membership, not the $2 billion. You kept going with that and I wanted to make that point clear.
Here in Nova Scotia there is still $61 million left in the Canadian Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program which is being dedicated to two sections of highway in Nova Scotia, and that's it, but if you go into New Brunswick, you're talking in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The single largest benefactor of not having toll highways - and I'm not an advocate of toll highways, in principle - would be the Irving corporations and its various interests. That was marketed very well during the election campaign by the fact that it owned a large percentage of the newspapers there. If you count the total number of days that articles ran on that, I believe it's in excess of 109 or 110 consecutive days of pounding the government on that issue. It became an issue of perception versus reality to a certain extent so whose interests were being served?
I don't want to get into the pros and cons of that but my concern is that as a Nova Scotia legislator, as a Nova Scotia taxpayer and a Nova Scotia citizen, we seem to be subsidizing, to a large extent, the trucking operations from outside of Nova Scotia to the detriment of the taxpayers because of the wear and tear on our highways.
Reducing our rail service in Cape Breton, for example, the privatization and perhaps in other areas, has put more pressure on our roads at a ratio of 10 to 1. So the wear and tear and the cost to the ministry in the department is such that we cannot keep up. So my question to you is, what representation have you made to the various governments, in particular Nova Scotia, to help as someone who, as you say, is on the front line with the issue every day to address this particular issue?
MR. BOYD: Well, I guess a couple of points. One of the biggest problems that we face as an industry to deal with, just look at the Port of Halifax, for instance. Trucking volumes out of the Port of Halifax have been increasing over the last number of years, not because we chose to have those volumes increase, because as you rightfully said, sir, many of those goods are destined for the middle west states. I think you have to look at a little bit in reverse. Some of the situations that have been created in Nova Scotia, and you see the increased volumes on our highways today, and let's say the decline of rail service in Cape Breton is the inability of that particular mode to serve or the willingness to make the investment.
We are not arguing about paying taxes. We will pay our taxes, and as I pointed out in one of my slides, I think we pay our fair share. The users that we provide service to are the dictators of which service they want to use and I'm not about to tell the rail where they should be investing or where they shouldn't be investing. I'm more concerned with educating my people where they should be making proper investments but what we've seen here of late has been somewhat of a decline of another mode willing to make those investments and provide the level of service that is required. The fallout has been that a volume of freight has moved to our industry, that we are trying to wrestle with our customer to provide that service and the situation that is being created is now we are seeing more trucks on our roadways and because you see more volume, you are going to see more wear and tear. But I would say in response to that, we are paying our fair share at this point and the fact that we are attempting to serve while under a great deal of pressure in exactly what we are being able to take home and say is our profit on a daily basis, or on an annual basis, in comparison to another mode who has enjoyed some tremendous benefits over the last number of years.
MR. MACKINNON: Just quickly, Mr. Chairman, I realize my . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: A very short snapper. You are pretty good at getting extra time, too.
MR. MACKINNON: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just quickly, I would respectfully ask our presenters here today, in view of the fact that the Capital Transportation Authority legislation is now before the House and when the House reconvenes in the Spring, that bill is on the order paper and I would ask if they would make representation before the Law Amendments Committee on that particular issue because it is very important, given the fact that container terminal traffic is expected to increase by at least 50 per cent over the next 10 to 15 years.
MR. BOYD: I know and just as a short response to that, I will be honest with you, there is no way that my particular industry wants to haul the volume of freight that CN Rail is presently handling. If anything, we would encourage CN Rail to make further investment within the region so that it does not create the situation that is being created today because I can assure you there are some commodities that we are hauling that would be best suited to be on the rail but because our customer wants those products and wants them now, and rail can't contribute that level of service, we are kind of the service provider that is being called upon.
We are wrestling, I belong to the Smart Port Forum and we have been dealing with the issue in downtown Halifax here in truck traffic and I will be honest with you, we don't want to be on Water Street. We would much prefer to be someplace else but one of the problems that is being created within the port has nothing to do with the trucking industry or the shipping industry or the municipality. It has to do with CN not making their commitment to this region and making the investment it needs to and providing the cars that are desperately needed in order to get those goods off the waterfront and into the central U.S. and Canada.
I will be honest with you, if you can find a way to make CN make that commitment because I will say, there has been a lot of controversy over the years between trucking and rail and I'm here today before you to tell you that we would partner with rail wholeheartedly where it makes economic sense and maintains a serviceability level which our customer presently enjoys and many of my members that I represent work hand in hand with rail.
I can tell you not long ago we sat around the table with some representatives of Transport Canada with four of the top rail users from the trucking entity and they said the exact same thing that I just said to you about CN. CN has to make a business commitment and if they are not prepared to make a business commitment, then I don't think we should stand around and wait for what other commitment may come along. We should be forcing the federal government, through Transport Canada, to make the line available to entities that may want to go into business to move freight out of the Port of Halifax, over rail rather than road.
MR. MACKINNON: Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Theriault.
MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: I'm sorry I was late. I would like to come back to the shortage of labour that you brought up earlier. We seem to be running into that problem all over this province because of people leaving here because they can't live. A lot of people can't live on $6.50 an hour, 28 hours a week. They can live on welfare much better. So there are a lot of people leaving here. Is the shortage of truck drivers just Nova Scotia or is it across Canada?
MR. MILLER: It's across Canada, to be quite honest.
MR. BOYD: In actual fact it's across North America.
MR. THERIAULT: Why do you think that's happening?
MR. BOYD: Well, there are a lot of things, I guess. You have to forgive sometimes my comments but I look at our educational system today. Our educational system many years ago, for those people who maybe were not academic performers, there was an option for them to go to a vocational school to take up a trade, to become a plumber, a pipefitter, a carpenter, whatever it might be. We are very much in the blue collar sector. Blue collar work is not attractive to our young people today. If I have my choice of going to work for a trucking company where I may be in Halifax on Monday and I may be in Boston on Wednesday and I may be in Toronto on Friday, it's not as attractive as going to a call centre where it's warm, it's not far from home, there's a social life.
As I say, trucking is probably the extreme blue collar job out there today because you are away from family and friends. You are very mobile. You are transient but there is an awful lot to be added to that lifestyle as well.
I mean we seem to become a second generation employer but for young people we are not attractive. We are not attractive, much like plumbing, pipefitting, and so on, simply because the focus today in our educational system is everybody should follow an academic trend. Well, we can have all the doctors, the lawyers and all of those professionals, and I don't detract from those professionals, they are a very deserving group of people, but not everybody can aspire to be that.
Our educational system is not directing people towards the blue collar sectors and at some point in time, we are going to be in a real crisis state when we can't get the lights on simply because we don't have any electricians and we can't get the plumbing to work simply because we don't have any plumbers and we can't get our goods delivered simply because we don't have truck drivers. That's the reality and we need to turn that.
Well, the education system is going to be a very difficult turn to make so we've looked at the whole aspect of if we can't grow them here, where can we find them? Is there a surplus of people? We have had some reasonable success in going to Europe and I must say about immigrant workers, we are looking for specific immigrant workers with certain qualifications. Just to give you a quick example. We are looking at a guy with five years articulated vehicle driving experience verifiable, a clean criminal record, a clean driving record, the ability to enter a random drug and alcohol testing program, the ability to cross an international border. So therefore, he has to carry a passport that will be easily recognized by the U.S. authorities.
We have a wealth of people in the Arab Emirates, or in Bahrain, the former Yugoslavia, those countries, Romania. We would have great difficulty in utilizing those people simply because they would not gain easy access to the U.S. market and we do need long-haul truck drivers in order to move our valued goods from here to market so that's kind of it in a nutshell.
MR. THERIAULT: Just one more thing on the safety issue. I experienced something two or three weeks ago that was quite an experience. I've seen these tires laying around the roads quite a lot but I was behind a trailer truck one day travelling about 100 kilometres. I was 200 or 300 yards behind it and I saw one of the tires start to come off. If someone had been up close behind it or walking along that road that day, I'm telling you they would have taken a beating from rubber. Is there a regulation for tires? They must be a retread.
MR. BOYD: Well, I'll be honest with you, technology has come a long way in the retread aspect but the likelihood of what you saw was a separation of a cap from a casing. The fact is we are seeing fewer and fewer of those, not to say that they don't occur out here. One thing that I have to say is, even though we see these types of incidents occurring on our highways, a lot of preventive maintenance can go into that.
Most of our carriers are inspecting their equipment at 45- to 90-day intervals, even though there is only an annual inspection of a commercial vehicle required under provincial requirements. Why we do that is we travel inter-jurisdictionally and we cannot afford to even blow as much as a tire at roadside on a trip, simply because our profit margin would be exhausted totally by us having to buy a tire away from our place of business. For example, a tire that we might buy for $400 in Berwick, on the side of the road in northern New Brunswick could cost us double that or more and lost productivity and so on and so forth.
I think vehicle maintenance has come a long way but there are still areas that we can do some work on. I think the technology has come a long way in retreading tires because we do have a couple of members who are in the retreading business and we've often discussed this issue with them. We hope that those incidents are only few and far between, and we
don't want to be out there operating equipment impeding the safety of others. It's not our policy, we will not go down that road; safety is paramount with us.
MR. MILLER: It's our families who are on the roads as well. We operate out of Berwick, Nova Scotia and chances are the trucks are going up and down the road next to my family and my friends, the people who I know. We are very serious about safety. Our drivers do tire checks, we have a regular tire preventive maintenance program and every day when someone leaves they are supposed to check their tires. Does everybody do that? No. Can more people in our industry do that? Yes. I think we are on the right track, I think that there are things that you can do as a company to make yourself safe.
MR. BOYD: One thing I will say is, keep that safe distance from a commercial vehicle and I would encourage all road users to keep that safe distance. The difficulty that we see most today is, an incident will occur on the highway but if people are travelling at safe distances away, you at least have time to react. What we're seeing is so much congestion on our roads that people are now lessening that safe distance between vehicles and that can only cause problems such as you experienced. If you had been closer, it may have come off in front of you, struck your car, disabled your car, left you dead in the middle of the road and other vehicles may have run into you, so that safe distance I would encourage.
MR. CHAIRMAN: With your indulgence, we're going to move into what we call the short-snapper segment of today's program. We would ask our guests, as well as the questioners, to be a little more concise if they could. We will begin with Mr. Parker.
MR. PARKER: I want to come back to long vehicles, we were into that when I left off . . .
MR. BOYD: Mr. Parker, I'm very knowledgeable of your position on long vehicles, but go ahead, sir.
MR. PARKER: I've seen vehicles out there that are over 25 metres, or two 53-foot trailers behind a tractor, so obviously that's over 25 metres. Is it legal in Nova Scotia to haul longer than 25 metres at the present time?
[10:50 p.m. Mr. Russell MacKinnon resumed the Chair.]
MR. BOYD: If you receive a permit, to the best of my knowledge, from the province - and I'm not going to say that there aren't people out there circumventing the system and cheating on it because we have cheaters in every part of our society . . .
MR. PARKER: Would you like to see LCV vehicles in the Atlantic Provinces?
MR. BOYD: Yes.
MR. PARKER: Would you support signage similar to what the Province of Quebec has?
MR. BOYD: Yes, I would, sir.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We'll move on.
MR. BOYD: Charlie, that's on the LCV signage, because if you look at most of our other configurations, if you look on the truck you will find some signage. Most 53 foot trailers are identified with a big 53 on them, so we don't need to do the whole length.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Parent.
MR. PARENT: A question on female drivers. You mentioned it is dominated by male drivers. In the university sector that I worked in they had a program where if there were two given applicants and they were the same, the female was to be chosen over the male. What programs do you have to encourage more female drivers in trucking?
MR. BOYD: Well, many of our companies have adopted a team approach and one of the successful things in any team operation is a husband and wife team. We are seeing more of those in companies that are operating a team operation, a husband and wife. The wife actually didn't start out driving, the husband drove for many years and because the family was, let's say, childless now, the children are grown up and away from home and the wife wanted to experience more time on the road with the husband, the wife became qualified as a Class 1 driver and now assists in the driving activities. In fact, Michelin Tire is a company that I come to most where you will see a number of carriers operating for Michelin Tire who are husband and wife teams. (Interruptions)
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Wilson.
MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Just so I think the government is clear and we're clear, as members, is the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association against any more toll roads in the Province of Nova Scotia?
MR. BOYD: I would state it this way, Mr. Wilson, we are not against a toll highway, we are against a toll highway where the toll is far greater than the benefit that we would seek. If a toll road can be constructed where there is substantial benefit to the industry, with a toll required to complement the construction, that's something that we could look at as business people and if it makes business sense.
One thing we are against is mandating us to utilize toll roads. We're business people. If it's a good business case, we'll look at it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Perhaps on that note we will be looking forward to your representation at the Law Amendments Committee, is that correct?
MR. BOYD: I haven't committed to that, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would suspect that you may want to. I'll recognize Mr. Taylor who has perhaps a question and, I believe, a resolution of some sort.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence, I'd just like to quickly say that I believe from listening to presenters this morning and listening to other truckers out there - and that includes companies and the owner/operators like Mr. Miller. The biggest crisis, if you will, that the trucking industry is facing now is driver shortage. There are concerns about tolls and borders but without question, the biggest problem is the fact that we have a driver shortage. I'm very much in support of the enhanced provincial nominee program and other initiatives.
I think, perhaps, in an attempt to do something of value at the committee level, Mr. Boyd, I would like to see the committee send a letter to the appropriate watchdog, the regulating agency, if that's the Insurance Bureau of Canada or whatever federal body it is - I apologize, I don't know - relative to age discrimination. I would like Canadians and the trucking industry to have confidence that whereas there's only four major commercial vehicle insurance companies that they are not discriminating against eligible drivers because of age.
Having said that, I would like to perhaps seek advice, Mr. Chairman, as to who - I want to make sure we don't have the old fox watching the chicken, if it's the Insurance Bureau of Canada, they may come back and tell us, based on their observations. Is there anybody in the room - perhaps our guests can tell us - who we could send such a missive off to?
MR. BOYD: I don't know if I can really tell you which group it should go off to, Mr. Taylor. I would just like to make one point. Many of our drivers are required in the long-haul sector. The long-haul sector is primarily the international market. There is a restriction within the United States that a commercial driver's licence holder accessing the U.S. must be 21 years of age, while our provincial requirement is 19 years of age to hold a Class 1 in the province for the domestic market. I would think that if we could bring that age from 25 down to 21, that would definitely fill some void.
The problem is, as I understand it and I stand to be corrected, that the commercial industry that governs our industry is not as regulated in Canada as the automotive insurance industry is. While I'm not trying to promote the governing of those insurers, I think we need to look at trying to get some more players into the market, how we do that. Rightfully so, Mr. Taylor, I think closing that gap from 25 to 21 would be significant, and also some aspect of looking at those individuals who have gained the proper age to work within the domestic
market is important as well. If we get more people working in the domestic market, it may free up some people from the domestic market to work in the international market. As I said earlier, there's no one silver bullet here to fix our driver shortage, but there's a whole raft of things that we could be doing to assist.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Perhaps for Mr. Taylor's benefit, as an entry point, we could send a letter off to the provincial Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and also ask for some input and direction, by official correspondence, to the Atlantic Truckers Association. Would that be acceptable?
MR. TAYLOR: I had more in mind, Mr. Chairman, that we would go to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. I really think we should, in an attempt to really highlight the concern, and the shortage is very real and it's now, that we should copy the federal Party Leaders in Ottawa such missive. It is a Canadian problem - it's certainly a Nova Scotian problem but it's much more pronounced than that, it's right across North America.
MR. CHAIRMAN: So your motion is that the committee direct the chairman, on behalf of the committee, to write to the Insurance Bureau of Canada or the appropriate insurance body that the Trucking Association deals with, there are four, I believe, and also copy off to the federal minister and to the federal authorities, as well as provincial, raising this concern and asking that the appropriate action be taken. That would be our entry point. Would that be acceptable? Is that your motion?
MR. TAYLOR: That sounds good, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
Witnesses, you have less than two minutes for closing remarks, if you wish. First of all, on behalf of the committee we are very pleased that you were able to come. It's been very insightful, a tremendous amount of information and very constructive. With that, closing remarks?
MR. BOYD: I would just like to thank the committee for the opportunity to come before them. I know that our industry is sometimes a little bit misunderstood. Hopefully today I've been able to address issues and concerns. Feel free as individual representatives of your constituencies, if you have questions on the trucking industry, I would be only too glad to exchange cards with you and if you have questions at a later time, please feel free to give us a call.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Two housekeeping measures. One, the next meeting date is January 11th, a Tuesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and that is Nova Scotia Power Inc.
MR. TAYLOR: Has that been confirmed, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, that has been confirmed. We would have had them this month only for the fact that the hearings took up the expert witnesses that we wanted to have. Also, I'm not sure if any or all members had an opportunity to review the preliminary report, our annual report. If they have and they are satisfied with the contents of it, there is an opportunity to sign off today and if not, well, when the time is right, contact Darlene Henry. Would that be okay?
So, a motion to adjourn.
MR. PARKER: So moved.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The committee is adjourned.
[The committee adjourned at 11:01 a.m.]