OTTAWA – In comments submitted to the Canadian section of the bilateral Regulatory Cooperation Council, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) agrees with the federal government’s desire to avoid a long “laundry list” of regulatory impediments to discuss with the Americans, and instead focus on a few, key areas that it believes are achievable if the will exists on both sides and which, if addressed, will yield moderate yet tangible benefits in terms of reduced costs and increased productivity for the primary mode of freight transportation between the two countries.
The Canada–US Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) was created by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama to improve regulatory transparency and coordination between the two countries. It has been given a two year mandate, and representatives from both countries are currently working towards the development of an agenda to guide future discussions.
CTA has brought forward three priority issues to the Canadian section of the RCC to remove costly regulatory barriers to the efficient movement of goods:
1. Streamline the process for moving “in-transit” goods. This will allow for more efficient, lower cost and faster truck transit times for Canadian carriers moving domestic goods through the US (such as between Southern Ontario and British Columbia as opposed to north of the Great Lakes or US carriers moving US loads in-transit through Canada between Buffalo and Detroit). This would mean convincing the United States to harmonize its current rules which have basically shut-down in-transit shipments through that country by treating them the same as international shipments, with the current Canadian rules which still permit in-transit shipments. The alternative would be for Canada to adopt the US rules and in essence put a stop to in-transit moves in both countries.
2. Provide the trucking industry on both sides of the border with greater flexibility to re-position foreign empty trailers using foreign drivers. The goal here would be to reduce the costs and inefficiencies associated with current Canadian and US restrictions on “spotting” an empty foreign trailer to the pick-up point of its return load home. This would in no way impact current rules that reserve freight movements to the domestic industry.
3. Cooperate on the establishment of a North American standard for proven fuel saving devices. The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved a device called a “boat-tail” – an aerodynamic fairing attached to the back of a tractor-trailer combination that improves fuel efficiency by 6–8 per cent – but no standard currently exists in Canada. The adoption of similar standards by the two governments will not only reduce trucking costs and produce environmental benefits it will also help ensure the unimpeded flow of vehicles bearing these devices across the border.
According to CTA CEO David Bradley, “the work of the Regulatory Cooperation Council presents an important opportunity to address some fundamental, yet relatively simple issues that drive up the cost and impair the productivity of moving goods between Canada and the US.”
While he says that “CTA is encouraged by the commitment shown to this process and to the Beyond Borders initiative by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama” he cautions that “there is a lot of work to do even to resolve these relatively simple matters.” He says the will must exist in both countries and there are a lot of industries vying for their issues to receive attention. In addition, he says officials are still trying to determine where responsibility for certain issues – like in-transit shipments – should reside – with the RCC or the Beyond Borders Working Group. “These things are being sorted out,” he says. “From our perspective we really don’t care which forum will deal with them, as long as they are dealt with. We are and we will continue to work closely with the officials leading Canada’s team on both initiatives.”