The Feds, Provinces & Territories Must Work Together to effectively Monitor Carrier Safety Fitness

The Feds, Provinces & Territories Must Work Together to Effectively Monitor Carrier Safety Fitness

The System in place currently has been broken for a long time, and solutions offered by the Industry have yet to be acted upon (the below is an exert of a communication that was sent by the PMTC to the CCMTA, Transport Canada & The Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation)

Currently, Commercial Motor Carriers who wish to operate a trucking fleet in Canada must apply for a Safety Fitness Certificate from the Provincial Authority in which they plan to license their vehicles. If the Provincial Authority of the base jurisdiction approves the application, a National Safety Code (NSC) will be issued to the Carrier. The base jurisdiction is then responsible for monitoring the motor carrier for safety and compliance, based on National Safety Code 14, which is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) all jurisdictions agreed to several years back.

While in theory, this process comes across as seamless and consistent, the reality of how carriers are monitored from one Canadian provincial jurisdiction to the other varies significantly. For instance, if you were to run a Safety Fitness Certificate from a carrier based in Ontario and then run one from a carrier in Alberta, it would be almost impossible to compare the safety ratings of the two fleets and decipher which one is the safest of the two.

The substantial differences in how one jurisdiction scores a carrier’s provincial safety rating compared to another, also lead to chameleon carriers simply closing shop in one jurisdiction and opening in another, exploiting the lack of communication between jurisdictions and simply opening again in a different location. In addition, there are many carriers in Canada, who exploit the lack of a central reporting system, and the lack of checks and balances in place between jurisdictions. They start several fleets and register each of them in different jurisdictions with different National Safety Code Numbers. When they face challenges in one jurisdiction, they simply continue to operate in the others by transferring vehicles over to the fleet in different jurisdictions so they can continue to operate across the country despite an undesirable safety profile.

The recent case with Chohan Freight Forwarders in British Columbia illustrates the current problem. The fleet had its operating authority suspended in British Columbia but had another federally regulated fleet operating out of Alberta. The absence of a coordinated and centralized system has allowed this fleet, deemed unsafe by one jurisdiction, to continue to operate across the country, including in the province that just suspended its operating authority. A fleet should only be allowed to have one National Safety Code Number. A central reporting system would alleviate this type of unsafe practice and ensure a proper tracking system across the country.

To further showcase how the lack of a centralized and uniform regulated system may cause alarming road safety issues, a simple internet search by one of our insurance company members demonstrates the seriousness of the problem. Back in 2022, it was found that 34 Trucking Companies were listed as operating at the same address in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, while another 54 companies were found to be listed as operating at one address in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Most of the emails associated with these companies were the same, from a consultant in Brampton, Ontario. A quick check at the time showed no trucks were located in either of these locations, despite records showing 88 trucking companies being registered at these locations. This is just one example of “jurisdiction shopping” when trucking companies set up their business in a location to save on operating costs, insurance, and oversight, or can easily “relocate” as a result of being shut down in another jurisdiction.

To rectify this issue, we need a nationally recognized MOU that is more descriptive than what is currently in place and has some teeth, to create a standardized Carrier Provincial Safety Rating. We must ensure that all the regions across the country monitor and audit carriers following the same consistent criteria with results easily accessible from a central reporting system/one-stop shop. Hence, everyone will be able to see and compare a carrier’s safety rating score regardless of the region from which it has been completed and submitted. Seamless access to results about the carrier’s compliance/non-compliance must be easily accessible to all, including the shippers who could then verify the safety of the fleet they are hiring.

To achieve this goal, coordinated and harmonized jurisdictional regulations are needed. The current inconsistencies in regulations and enforcement from one jurisdiction to another reduce efficiency and increase burdens and costs to the industry. Sadly, it also leads to some carriers who do not have safety and compliance at the top of their priorities to go jurisdiction shopping to find the one with the least stringent regulations to register their fleet in.

The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada has been raising this issue at meetings with governments since 2015, and the most recent case in British Columbia highlights the seriousness of this issue. It needs to be addressed promptly by regulators, & the PMTC is ready & willing to work together with regulators on this process.

Mike grew up on a beef farm in rural Southwestern Ontario in Huron County and began his career in the Trucking Industry in 1990 at the age of 18. Mike spent three years working for a local carrier Hauling Livestock and bulk agriculture products. At the age of 21 Mike went to work for a long Haul Refrigerated and general freight carrier and spent 5 years hauling freight in all 48 US Mainland States and 6 Canadian Provinces. The Carrier then opened a Certified Driver Training School in 1998 and Mike came off the road to become one of the Schools First Certified Driver Trainers. In 2000 Mike Transitioned into Safety and Compliance for the Fleet, while still working part time as a Trainer for the School. In 2002 Mike moved over to a Private Fleet and became the Safety, Compliance, Maintenance and Training manager for the Hensall District Co-operative’s Commercial Trucking Fleet. Mike spent the next 12.5 years with Hensall and oversaw the Fleets as it grew from 40 Trucks in 2002 to over 160 in 2015. In January of 2015 Mike moved into the Trucking Association business and was named the President of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, where he remains in his current role.