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Posts by Susan Green

INCREASED MANITOBA BIODIESEL MANDATE HURTS TRUCKING

- by Susan Green

December 22, 2020 - The Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) is disappointed that the Province of Manitoba has increased the biofuel mandate in Manitoba without regard for the impact on the trucking industry or the economy in general.

“We are especially disappointed that Manitoba has disregarded the repeated communications the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) has made to Provincial Ministers, Deputy Ministers and the Expert Advisory Council to explain the technical limitations of using biodiesel in Manitoba’s seasonal climate,” explains Terry Shaw, MTA Executive Director. “We have explained time and again that our climate is too extreme for biodiesel at higher blends. These higher blends are not reliable and lead to increased downtime and maintenance costs for our industry.”

In the cold months, little or no biodiesel is blended in the fuel sold in Manitoba. This is because fuel suppliers know that biodiesel is problematic in cold temperatures. The Province’s continued insistence that there are no operability issues with biodiesel and cold weather is countered by the fact that suppliers do not sell it during cold temperatures.

In warmer months, biodiesel is blended at 5% to achieve the current 2% content requirement. With the higher content announced today by the Province, that blend level will increase beyond 5%, which will cause performance and maintenance issues that are not covered by manufacturer warranties.

In Manitoba, a 5% mandate does not actually mean a consistent fuel blend of 5%. The mandated 5% is a provincial annual average. In Northern Manitoba, the year-round temperatures are such that fuel suppliers will not use biodiesel. This means that in Southern Manitoba, to hit the 5% province wide average, trucking companies will get more than 5% biodiesel on an annualized basis.

The MTA is calling on the provincial government to change course on its biodiesel policy and instead to convene a committee of industry subject matter experts to partner on a progressive strategy that will create positive environmental gains while not undermining industry or economic success.


 

MTA Addresses Infrastructure Proposals

- by Susan Green

The MTA is advocating on behalf of the trucking industry on a couple of significant transportation-related items in the province, including the City of Winnipeg's Master Transportation Plan and the proposed roundabout for the intersection of highways 1 and 16.

Winnipeg Master Transportation Plan - MTA representatives have participated in a number of virtual meetings with the City and its consultants, pressing for the protection of truck routes, improved safety measures, and better land-use planning that minimizes disruptions to heavy vehicles. We have also been advocating for the trucking industry as the City undertakes a review of road safety and considers ways to address the challenges posed by the Marion-Goulet corridor.

Proposed roundabout at Trans Canada Highway & PTH 16 - In addition to communications with Manitoba Infrastructure, we have been consulting with the engineers and planners tasked with designing the roundabout project planned for the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway #16, a few miles west of Portage la Prairie.

 

Question from a member re: driver quarantines after crossing Canada-US border

- by Susan Green

Q: One of our drivers recently bought groceries while in the US. Upon returning to Canada, this driver was advised that this action could be determined as discretionary, meaning it could result in being subject to the 14 day quarantine. We thought drivers were exempt from this quarantine requirement as they are essential workers?


A: We have heard from a few members of drivers being warned that some actions are being determined at the border as discretionary, and these drivers are being advised against such actions or risk a 14-day quarantine. These actions have included grocery shopping and even fueling their truck (under some very specific circumstances, and not while under load). We also mentioned in the October newsletter that it has come to our attention that officers are questioning drivers on the amount of time they are spending in the US for what is perceived as a short trip. These trips may be extended for perfectly legitimate reasons, such as resetting hours of service. We have been in touch with CBSA on this issue, and while they are concerned about essential workers being told they need to quarantine, they also shared some advice to help ensure such an order will not be issued. These tips include:
  • focusing on purchases that are only required for your trip. Groceries are required; gifts for friends or Christmas presents are not considered essential;
  • don't deviate from your essential work. That is, even if you have some downtime while waiting for a reload, for example, don't use that time to visit with others or go shopping for non-essential goods;
  • call CBSA if you are unsure about how your actions may be interpreted.
    • Within Canada and the United States, call toll-free 1-800-461-9999
    • TTY (for those with hearing or speech impairments) 1-866-335-3237
Should drivers continue to have issues, please contact us at the MTA office.
 

Update on Driver Medical Access, Testing

- by Susan Green

We want to share a couple of important updates relating to driver health:

  • Medical access for drivers - we have been working on this issue for some time, and were pleased to share with members last week that we heard from Shared Health in a positive way. They sent a letter to doctors in Manitoba reminding them that truck drivers are essential workers who should not be denied service due to their work. If a doctor is unable to provide service to a driver due to PPE issues, they are to refer the driver to another service provider or clinic. In return, they have asked that drivers call ahead to ensure the clinic/provider has adequate PPE in order to safely provide service. Full letter from Shared Health.
  • Asymptomatic testing of drivers - members will remember that, when there was excess COVID-19 testing capacity in Manitoba, asymptomatic testing was available for commercial drivers due to their work taking them out-of-province. As that situation has evolved the past few weeks, the Province of Manitoba has requested that employers not send asymptomatic employees for testing any longer.

 

Health Issues in Industry are Top Priority

- by Susan Green

Two of the most concerning items in Manitoba's trucking industry right now are health related. First, we continue to hear from drivers who are being denied access to medical services, such as dentists, doctors, chiropractic services, and more. This is unacceptable: drivers and the trucking industry have literally been the backbone of the economy over the last several months. When no one else could go out, the trucking industry did, making sure the supplies needed made it where they had to go. Those same offices denying access to drivers today were supplied with PPE from those drivers yesterday. Our drivers are essential service workers. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure those in our industry are physically healthy; to deny medical service to drivers is unacceptable. We are working to address this in a few ways, and while we are pleased to report that the reception to our complaints has generally been welcoming and pro-active, we are still hearing from drivers. We would encourage you to have any driver - MTA member or not - who has been denied access to medical services in Manitoba to contact the MTA with the name, date, and type of medical service denied so we can follow-up on this pressing concern.

The other health concern is mental health. MTA staff are in regular contact with members and non-members alike, and the reality is that people are struggling. Stress levels are high for many reasons, and we don’t always know or appreciate what those reasons are. We know it’s been said in the past, but we really need to be kind to one another because we don’t know what others are going through these days. Everyone’s experiences these days are different. No one is suggesting you need to take on more than you can handle; self-care is also important. Maybe you let someone in traffic, or shovel your neighbour’s walk, buy someone a coffee, or just reach out via text or phone call to see how someone is doing. Your efforts will be appreciated. Let's take care of each other as we work through this.


 

UPDATED: Winter Weights Starting in Manitoba

- by Susan Green

UPDATE: 2020-2021 Winter Seasonal Weights (WSW) will be allowed starting on Monday, November 23 in Climate Zone 1B (Swan River area).

Please be advised that 2020-2021 Winter Seasonal Weights (WSW) will be allowed starting today, Wednesday, November 18 in Climate Zone 3 (Thompson area) and on Friday, November 20 in Climate Zone 2 (The Pas area). If an earlier start date will be possible for zones 1A and 1B, a new order will be released for an earlier start date in any of these zones. Otherwise, it is anticipated that WSW will go into effect on December 21 in Zone 1A and November 23 (updated) for Zone 1B.


 

MTA Elects New Board of Directors at 88th AGM

- by Susan Green

The Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) held its 88th Annual General Meeting today, postponed from April 3. In a first for the association, this year’s meeting was hosted in a hybrid format, meaning some attendees were present in-person and others attended online.


This year’s President’s Report focused on highlights from 2019, including growth of the RPM trucking industry safety program, report from the Office of the Auditor General, and advocacy wins for the association including MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) and the Efficient Trucking Program.

The new MTA Board of Director’s was also nominated today. Members of the 2020-2021 MTA Board of Directors include:
  • Bernie Driedger* - Portage Transport Inc.
  • Ed Dillon* - Kleysen Group Ltd.
  • Jasvir Singh Brar - 4Tracks Ltd.
  • John Curcio - Manitoulin Transport
  • Bruce Danylchuk - E.B.D. Enterprises Inc.
  • Jeannie Arnold - Arnold Bros. Transport
  • Jason Dubois* - Len Dubois Trucking Ltd.
  • Gilles Durand- Du-Vall Transport (Bulk Milk)
  • Darrin Fiske - Kleysen Group Ltd.
  • Scott Kinley - Gladstone Transfer Ltd.
  • Derek Lachaine - TransX Group of Companies
  • Darren Lane - Fast Lane Freight Services Inc.
  • Real Tetrault - Tetrault Transport (Bulk Milk)
  • Jim Devlin - Bridgestone Canada Inc. (ATD)
  • Jeff Odway* - Prairie International Container & Dray Services Inc.
  • PJ Singh - 4Tracks Ltd.
  • Dave Tyrchniewicz - Turk Enterprises Ltd
  • Pauline Wiebe-Peters* - Payne Transportation Ltd.
  • Steve Zokvic - Bison Transport Inc.
  • Rob Penner - Bison Transport Inc.
  • Connie Sigurdson - Harris Transport Ltd.
  • Peter McDonald - TransX Group of Companies
  • Thomas McKee - Payne Transportation Ltd.
  • Ryan Mitchell - Wildwood Transport Inc.
  • Brent Arnold* - Arnold Bros. Transport
  • Howard Hildebrand - Searcy Trucking Ltd.
  • Salil Prabhakar - Razir Transport Services Ltd.
  • Scott Kinsman - Maxim Truck & Trailer

* denotes member of the MTA Executive Committee

Past presidents of the MTA include John Erik Albrechtsen* (Paul's Hauling), Gary Arnold (Arnold Bros. Transport), Greg Arndt (Jade Transport), Norm Blagden (Searcy Trucking), Tom Payne Jr (Payne Transportation), Jim Trann (RS Express), Al Lepp (Redline Transport), Allan Penner (Penner International), Gil Tetrault (Tetrault Transport), and Milt Penner (Penner International). Honourary life directors of the MTA include George Engel and Gerald Reimer.

“I am very excited for the opportunities our association has in the upcoming years,” said Bernie Driedger, incoming MTA President and President of Portage Transport Inc. “We have laid a very strong foundation for the future, and topics such as ELDs, truck electrification, and red tape reduction will all be priorities for the MTA, as well as continuing to address weaknesses raised by COVID-19.”

The Manitoba Trucking Association would like to thank outgoing president John Erik Albrechtsen of Paul’s Hauling Ltd for his tireless efforts over the past two years, and looks forward to his continued contributions on the MTA Executive as Past President.





 

CTA to Industry: Turn Driver Inc Companies Over to CRA Leads Program

- by Susan Green

Driver Inc. companies are the scourge of the trucking industry. They cheat on taxes, break numerous labour laws and, according to a detailed safety analysis of convicted offenders, many are also unscrupulously unsafe operators.

So, then, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Driver Inc. carriers would set their sights on public support funding and may be defrauding the Government of Canada through CEWS and CERB, says Canadian Trucking Alliance president Stephen Laskowski.

PSB workers are meant to be contractors – not employees – which makes these Driver Inc. companies ineligible to receive any funds under the CEWS. Yet there are growing reports that Driver Inc. companies are taking advantage of the benefits of the CEWS by shifting their payroll classifications of their supposed PSB workforce to employees for the sole purpose of receiving the CEWS subsidy and then planning to switch back to the “PSB” model following the crisis and end of the subsidy.

“CTA continues to work with the Canada Revenue Agency and ESDC to educate the industry on understanding the tax and labour implications of being a legal Personal Services Business, while stamping out Driver Inc. from our industry,” said Laskowski. “But now the federal government has another reason to go after these law-breaking companies – COVID-19 relief fraud.”

There are additional reports that Driver Inc. companies are trying to maintain their driving workforce during the crisis by not only topping up driver pay with ill-gotten CEWS funds but also with “under the table” payments.

“While CTA works with the Government of Canada on enforcement and audits of Driver Inc companies – including those already convicted by Ontario’s WSIB of Driver Inc. offenses – we are asking the industry to report Driver Inc. companies to the CRA tax cheat tip line,” added Laskowski. “Known as the CRA Lead Program, this platform is an excellent way for everyone in our industry to demand action against Driver Inc. companies and drivers.”

Here are the type of cheating offenses covered by the CRA Lead Program:

  • not declaring all income
  • creating false expenses or tax deductions
  • taking cash “under the table”
  • not filing tax returns when required
  • setting up a fake business to claim losses and reduce taxes
  • businesses not remitting proper source deductions
  • falsely claiming tax benefits or credits
  • creating false or deceptive documents or records
  • charities making profits from non-charitable activities
  • individuals receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) who do not meet the eligibility criteria
  • individuals receiving the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) who do not meet the eligibility criteria
  • businesses or charities that are misusing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

To learn more about the CRA Leads Program click here.

Laskowski also reminded Ontarians to use the anonymous WSIB hotline (1-888-745-3237) to provide them with new auditing targets in the battle against Driver Inc.

Dozens of carriers have been convicted and their names have been provided to both CRA and ESDC for action and Laskowski is urging the industry to help expand the list of Driver Inc. being targeted for enforcement action.

Tags: Driver Inc CRA

 

Truck Electrification an Exciting Opportunity

- by Susan Green

As our industry continues to be highly focused on the day-to-day concerns related to COVID-19, we have also begun to look to the future of our industry as well. One project that was under development pre-COVID that has come back to the fore during the past few weeks is truck electrification.

Why truck electrification? In Manitoba, there is a lot of potential for such projects due to our abundance of renewable hydro-electric resources. A strong transportation network is vital to ensuring that all of Manitoba’s communities are connected. If the transportation industry can play a part in efficiently reducing our carbon footprint by making use of a readily available renewable resource, we want in. Since 95% of all freight moved in Manitoba spends at least some time on a truck, we are looking at the viability of electrification of several different trucking modes, including long and short haul work.

Of course there are challenges with such a move, particularly our long, cold winters. Therefore, we look forward to participating in demonstration projects that will ensure that truck electrification is a realistic option in Manitoba. We have seen other green initiatives proposed that failed to take into consideration just how hard our winters can be; therefore, we want to be certain that this is the right tool in Manitoba’s trucking industry.

While we have a number of i’s to dot and t’s to cross, what we envision is a demonstration project that wraps up (and proves or improves upon the viability of electric trucks as an option in Manitoba) around the same time that electric trucks are an option for the mass market. Before they reach the mass market, though, we want to know, what are the maintenance issues of these trucks when they operate in Manitoba? What is their range, in all seasons? What are the issues we haven’t anticipated? What anticipated issues have become non-issues as we run the pilot project? What are the financial and policy impacts for industry and government? It is an exciting opportunity, and we look forward to moving it along.

Members with questions are encouraged to contact us. Non-members, if you want a say in the direction of Manitoba’s trucking industry, it’s time to join the Manitoba Trucking Association. Contact us at 204-632-6600.


 

Getting Back to Business

- by Susan Green

Do you remember what your priorities were in February, before COVID-19 became our main focus? At the Manitoba Trucking Association, we identified a few key projects at that time in our newsletter: some LCV program participants weren’t following the program requirements, the driver shortage, the upcoming ELD mandate, the Trucking Efficiency Program, and the Office of the Auditor General's report on commercial vehicle oversight.

When COVID-19 became a public health emergency in March, many of those items were pushed to the back-burner as we acted and reacted as quickly as we could to local, provincial, federal, and even international regulatory changes that impacted our industry. We sent out over fifty member notices at that time that were strictly related to COVID-19, as well as regular eBulletins and newsletters that covered COVID updates as well as other regulatory changes.

Now that the crisis is over and we have learned how to manage it better, we are able to return to our pre-pandemic priorities. Specifically, truck electrification, the Office of the Auditor General’s report from December, NSC audit reform, carrier profiles and safety rating reform, wide base tire policy, a weigh scale bypass program, plus a long list of other items now occupy our time. Of course, COVID-19 related issues continue to dominate many of our discussions, but we have returned to our advocacy work for the trucking industry in general, rather than being focused entirely on the imapcts of COVID-19 on the truckng industry.

Members with questions are encouraged to contact us. Non-members, if you want a say in the direction of Manitoba’s trucking industry, it’s time to join the Manitoba Trucking Association. Contact us at 204-632-6600.


 

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