The Ontario Trucking Association is applauding a measure announced in the provincial budget today that would close a long-standing loophole which exempted certain heavy trucks from having to be plated and subjected to commercial vehicle registration fees, provincial fuel taxes and even 407ETR tolls.
For years, certain heavy trucks involved in commercial operations – such as mobile cranes, vacuum trucks and concrete pumper trucks, among others – were designated as so-called “road-building machines” under the Highway Traffic Act, sparing their owners from being charged the types of fees and taxes all other commercial truck operators are required to pay.
“A truck is a truck is a truck,” says OTA president, David Bradley. “It should not matter what commercial enterprise a truck is in. They are all road users and their owners should pay their fair share of the costs of building, maintaining and safety of the infrastructure.”
OTA estimates the revenue leakage to the province from this loophole to be around $50 million a year.
“It’s not like we’re talking about construction vehicles which are clearly road-building machines,” says Bradley. “We’re talking about trucks, many of which are involved in a broad range of commercial activities deployed by profit-driven entities like any other commercial road user.
“We commend the provincial government for having the courage to close the loophole,” he said.
Finance minister Charles Sousa today also released further details on the government’s plan for transportation infrastructure funding, which was for the most part announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne and transportation minister Glen Murray two weeks ago.
Bradley says the plan is consistent with many of the association’s key policy positions and appears to strike a better balance between roads, highways and bridges and transit.
“The dedication of at least a portion of the current fuel tax revenue to transportation and the establishment of two trust funds – one for transit in the GTHA and the other to meet the transportation needs, including for roads and bridges, in the rest of the province – is consistent with what we have been calling for,” he says.
However, Bradley notes that budget bill will have to be passed for any of the measures to take effect.
UPDATE (May 2, 2014): The Ontario Liberals have announced an Election on June 12, after opposition parties announced they would not support the budget. OTA will update members of how the issue of unplated vehicles will be affected in the coming months.