The Canadian Trucking Alliance recently submitted its responses to a 2014 pre-budget consultation request by the Government of Canada, which includes recommendations on how to help the trucking industry cope with rising costs, ensure workers obtain the skills and knowledge required for the future and spur business growth.
CTA commented on the potential threat to businesses whenever the government considers making increases to the federal excise tax on diesel fuel or makes regulatory changes to diesel fuel content, such as the recent biodiesel requirement. The biodiesel regulations, as an example, and the heavy subsidies for the sector, have come at the expense of the trucking industry by unnecessarily raising costs for those who rely on diesel fuel for their business.
As the largest employer in Canada, the trucking industry would welcome the federal government’s involvement in addressing some of the issues that could alleviate thetruck driver shortage. CTA recommended that Ottawa recognize truck driving as a skilled trade through the federal National Occupation Classification system, which would reduce the hurdles for qualified foreign truck drivers to enter the country and continue their careers beyond a temporary placement, as well as elevate the occupation for unemployed Canadians and marketing the sector to young people as an honorable occupation worth pursuing.
The government could also help trucking businesses grow and spur employment by introducing more investment-friendly capital cost allowance (CCA) rates, increasing carriers’ ability to invest in new diesel as well as LNG equipment. In the U.S., for example, where heavy trucks are considered four-year assets (compared to eight years in Canada), companies can re-equip fleets more quickly and become more competitive.
As far as making Canada-US trade more efficient, CTA in its submission reminded the government that carrier members have remained strong supporters of automated border clearance processes. However, significant technical problems with the ACI program and subpar service levels remain an issue, hampering the operations and increasing costs of the many carriers who were encouraged to voluntarily comply with the program. CTA stressed how important it is that steps be taken to ensure the system is robust and sustainable prior to mandatory compliance. At the same time, Canada should continue to support and invest in hard infrastructure as well as new technology and software to help expedite trade.
CTA also reiterated its belief that tax dollars collected in the name of infrastructure should be better respected with the goal of addressing the infrastructure deficit. The Government of Canada should try and ensure that all road-related revenues (fuel taxes, vehicle plate/registration fees/permits, etc.) are dedicated to road, highway and bridge infrastructure – not general revenues. CTA is supportive of the introduction of highway trust funds or other similar mechanisms which are dedicated and transparent.