EDITORIAL: OTA Ready to Take on Key Issues in 2024

By James Steed

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has been the voice of trucking at Queen’s Park for close to 100 years. The nature of trucking has obviously changed over that time – and, of course, there have been many challenges we’ve worked to overcome – but the role of OTA carriers as responsible leaders whose goals of industry-wide professionalism, uncompromised safety, and respect for its drivers, has been a constant.

We have had a positive working relationship with the Doug Ford government. As the current chairman of OTA, I have witnessed the collaborative efforts of the OTA, member carriers, various ministers and their staffs who serve them.

However, the job of supporting the industry and creating a fair environment in which conscientious and responsible carriers can thrive continues. As we move into 2024, our mission is as important as ever. Among the issues that are a priority for OTA, include:

  • Bringing strong provincial enforcement on the misclassification and labor abuse scheme known as Driver Inc. While Ontario has been a leader in cracking down on these unscrupulous carriers and temporary service agencies, we look forward to more targeted enforcement from WSIB, Employers Health Tax audits, and other mechanisms. This effort also includes assisting the Canadian Trucking Alliance in its lobby campaign to end Driver Inc. through increased CRA and ESDC enforcement.
  • The issue of driver training is personally close to my heart. It’s imperative we continue improving the licensing and training systems that create new drivers. As part of that, I look forward to working with OTA and stakeholders to build support for new world-class training institutions in Ontario, that ensure the future growth of commercial drivers and heavy-duty diesel mechanics, as well as institutionalizing training dollars to assist fleets in creating professional, safe, road-ready drivers.
  • The safety and security of truck drivers and the traveling public in Northern Ontario is of paramount importance, especially as we enter some of the more perilous months of winter driving. We are currently gathering data from a province-wide survey of carriers and truck drivers which will help us propose and implement some strategies.

There are many other initiatives I could list here– among them, continuing support for critical infrastructure projects that make moving goods more efficient (like building Hwy. 413 and the Bradford Bypass), also making day-to-day operations and administration more effective, and working with government to improve services for permits and IRP plates.

James Steed is the president of Steed Standard Transport and CEO of the Ontario Trucking Association. His column appears exclusively in Today’s Trucking magazine.

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