The Ontario Trucking Association submitted recommendations for items to be included in the 2017 Ontario Provincial Budget, which included proposals on how to provide relief from escalating electricity prices, improve workers’ compensation; and accelerate the market for commercial vehicle safety and environmental technology, among other things.
Here are some highlights from OTA’s official submission:
- Electricity Costs – Ontario’s goods movement industry simply cannot continue to absorb the price increases of electricity seen over the past few years if it hopes to remain competitive in the North American marketplace, says OTA, which asked the government to examine all possible options to provide Ontario businesses – including those in the trucking and warehousing sector – cost relief from escalating electricity rates.
- Workers Compensation – OTA continued to call on the government to focus on the financial integrity of the system and the retirement of the UFL (unfunded liabilities). In support of this goal, the government could also consider moving the WSIB from the Ministry of Labour to the Ministry of Finance.
- Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program – Trucking companies in Ontario have challenges finding qualified drivers. While recent changes to training standards could help the industry down the road, in the meantime OTA would like to see the budget assist the industry by reviewing provincial programs which would allow access to more immigrant truck drivers and ensure the program is aligned with other provinces.
- Tax Incentives for Commercial Vehicle Safety Technology – The introduction of new technology designed to supplement the driver’s skills should also be encouraged by the government. Financial incentives to encourage proven cutting edge technology such as lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and forward collision warning and avoidance systems should be considered.
- Invest in Smart Scales – Many jurisdictions are already using smart scales with innovative/expedited triage capabilities, such as licence plate readers and infrared mechanical inspection technology, which provide advanced information to enforcement officials. Technology has the potential to provide the information needed to focus limited government resources on the carriers which warrant more attention.
- Carbon Pricing Revenues – Ontario announced in 2016 a quarter billion-dollar plan that would use carbon-pricing revenues to provide incentives for the trucking industry to encourage investments in emission-reducing technologies. OTA is hopeful that budget 2017 will outline how and when this money will flow back to the industry.
- Dedicated Revenues for Congestion/Transit Time Relief – The fees and fuel taxes collected from the trucking industry pays nearly the full road and maintenance budget on an annual basis. OTA understands governments are facing tough budget decisions, but OTA says the trucking industry needs assurances that whatever form road pricing takes, the revenues generated are used effectively for their intended purpose (e.g., measurable reductions in congestion/transit times) and that trucks are treated fairly.
- Government Service & Plates – Increased licence plate fees coincided with a modernization of the MTO service delivery system. While this will ultimately lead to improved service, OTA feels it’s important for MTO establish clear service performance standards and ensure the appropriate monitoring systems are in place so that service problems can be identified and corrected as soon as possible.
“OTA understands these are challenging times and that crafting a provincial budget is always a difficult matter. However, we believe we have brought forward sound measures that address a range of key issues from trade facilitation and environmental policy to technological innovation and road safety,” says OTA president Stephen Laskowski. “We look forward to discussing these issues and working with the government in the near future.”