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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications

Issue 2 - Evidence - March 14, 2001


OTTAWA, Wednesday, March 14, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, to which was referred Bill S-3, to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987, and to make consequential amendments to other acts, met this day at 5:30 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Lise Bacon (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: We are meeting on the study of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act of 1987 and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Our first witness is Mr. Bob Evans. Welcome, and please proceed.

Mr. Bob Evans, Executive Director, Canadians for Responsible and Safe Highways: I had a spectacular arrival that was totally unintended. I managed to trip over a piece of sidewalk in front of the building that was a bit uneven, and I went head over heels.

CRASH is very pleased to be invited to provide input to Bill S-3. CRASH is a national association working to ensure that public views and concerns are considered when governments develop, implement and enforce policies affecting trucking safety.

Trucking safety is about people. It is not about trucks, and I think we should not lose sight of that fact. In a typical year in Canada, almost 600 people are killed and 12,000 injured in some 40,000 truck crashes. Those are totally unacceptable statistics.

Trucking is important to the economy. However, trucks are so heavy, and there are so many of them that it is essential that they be operated on the roads as safely as possible.

We at CRASH have a major concern with the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, or MVTA, that we know is shared with trucking business associations and others. I refer to the failure to achieve a consistent National Safety Code. Public safety is at stake, yet in too many respects the provinces continue to go their own separate ways. I propose not to elaborate here on the nature and apparent explanations for this phenomenon, not because it is unimportant -- it is certainly is very important -- but because I expect that others will be addressing this aspect at some length. Permit me simply to add that uneven enforcement by provinces, and lack of federal direction is creating unnecessary administrative burdens, allowing unsafe practices and creating barriers to trade. If we cannot agree on trucking safety standards amongst ourselves, how can we expect to regulate in any meaningful way the safety of trucking operations within Canada on the part of our NAFTA partners?

With your indulgence, I want to quickly highlight the recommendations made on behalf of CRASH in our detailed brief to this committee, and then move to what we view as a particularly urgent matter relating to regulations made under the MVTA; regulations relating to hours of service.

Senator Forrestall: Could you give us a page reference?

Mr. Evans: I am not working from the brief, senator.

It is the position of CRASH that the federal government should use its constitutional authority to regulate interprovincial trucking. That is certainly not what is happening now. Beyond that, we have in our detailed brief the following specific recommendations for amendments to the bill. There are three.

First, that the reference to consultation with industry on safety standards, which now refers to that between government and industry, should be broadened to cover not only industry but also safety organizations, truck and bus driver unions, owner-operator organizations, scientists and the general public.

The Chairman: The proposed amendments are on page 11, honourable senators.

Mr. Evans: That is right, thank you.

Second, we recommend that the minister be required to table an annual report on National Safety Code conformance, together with relevant collision statistics. We note that this was previously a requirement, and as we understand it, in the new bill, it is proposed not to continue the annual reporting requirement.

Third, the bill should ensure that the federal government has sufficient flexibility and responsibility to regulate the different aspects of truck and bus safety. After reading the bill, we wondered whether some of the suggested powers were too narrowly focused. The power is there for the government to conduct audits and other things, but what about the rest? That is a major concern that we have.

That is all I would like to say about the National Safety Code generally. However, I will now speak to the major concerns of my organization relating to the limitation of commercial vehicle operator hours of service. This regulation is, of course, under the current MVTA, section 3. The federal government, working in conjunction with the provinces through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, has proposed revised workload limits for truck drivers. The key elements of those proposals are: a 14-hour driving shift, and on alternate days up to a 16-hour driving shift, and a work week that can be from 84 to 96 hours long, and all of those hours can be driving time. These proposals are supposed to be approved by the CCMTA's board of directors in June. The federal government is then expected to reflect the same by revising its federal hours-of-service regulations that apply to all carriers operating across provincial or national boundaries.

I note that my association participated in the work of the CCMTA project team charged with developing the hours of service. The active membership on this committee consisted of representatives from the federal and provincial governments, a large delegation representing the various national and provincial trucking business associations and their allies, a few observers, a representative from the Teamsters' Union, and a representative from CRASH. Only the Teamsters and CRASH representatives spoke against the proposal, and both organizations can testify that our concerns and suggestions on that project team were given pretty short shrift.

As well, I respond to suggestions made not only by some trucking interests but also by federal government spokespersons that the new proposal for hours of service is somehow safe because it calls for fewer hours in the week than truckers now work. It is argued that Canadian truck drivers can now work 108 hours per week, so a mere 84- or 96-hour work week obviously would be safer. That is a lot of nonsense. It is theoretically possible to work 108 hours in the first week of one of the Canadian work cycles, which should never have been allowed. However, this is possible only on the basis of working many fewer hours in the following week. A human being simply cannot work 108 hours per week, week after week, as some would apparently have us believe. After all, there are only 160 hours, total, in a week.

Frankly, Canadian drivers are not driving 108 hours each week. Most drivers today are working within the "lesser cycles" -- 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days. That is a lot of driving -- one and one half times the normal industrial shift per week. These drivers see that minimum cycle -- "60 in seven" or "70 in eight" -- under the proposed regulation being eight, thereby allowing up to 84 hours in a week. Since we are really not coming from the 108 hours, they will only be able to work 84 hours.

Actually, truck drivers work hard putting in about 60 hours each week. Suddenly, they are seeing this regulation wherein the most modest number appearing is now 84 hours per week, which represents a 40 per cent increase over the number in the current regulations.

I regret the fact that certain trucking spokespersons insist on referring to one cycle of the new hours-of-service proposal as "70 hours in seven days", rather than "84 hours in seven days."The teamsters know that a driver can be required to work 84 hours in seven days under the proposed cycle. The Canadian Automobile Association, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety representatives and many others know that as well. Some of us might wonder if certain parties are trying to hide reality.

The American Plan for Driver Work Limits, released in April 2000, has brought the whole matter of Canadian regulation of trucker hours of work into sharp focus. That occurred five months after the Canadian proposal for hours of work was locked up. In closing, I want you to compare the new Canadian proposal for hours of service with the American proposal, and also to be aware of what is happening in Europe.

I have a chart here that shows maximum hours per week. The Canadian proposal for a maximum driving shift is 14 hours. In the United States, it is 12 hours of driving. That compares with 10 hours of driving permitted in the United States right now. Many challenge that proposed increase. The current number of hours permitted in Europe is nine.

There has been reference from a Transport Canada official to the fact that Canada has the longest driving shift in the regulated world. Currently, that shift is 13 hours, and under the proposal it will increase to 14 hours. As I mentioned, the Americans are at 10 hours, and increasing to 12 hours, while in Western Europe it is nine hours, and I am not sure whether that may not be reduced.

The importance of the length of the driving shift is demonstrated by some research facts that I will quote. There have been several major studies of accident risk after truck drivers drive a certain number of hours. One study shows that the risk virtually doubles after eight hours of driving, based on actual experience. Another study actually had 3.2 as the risk factor after driving more than nine hours. When that eight or nine hour factor is exceeded, the risk of accident rises substantially. Another American study showed that the risk increased by 6.2 if a driver exceeded nine hours. I do not argue in favour of any particular statistic from those figures, but I would point out that there is a significant increase, as suggested by the research, when the period of driving exceeds roughly eight hours.

These numbers, by the way, were presented by Dr. Ellisa Bramer of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, Alexandria, Virginia, at a conference that my association held in Toronto in September 2000.

The next chart is "maximum hours per week." This is an area of major concern to us. The proposal falls under a system called a 36-hour reset. That consists of five 14-hour driving days, with one day off, and then the cycle repeats. However, the first of those five days is the seventh day in the week. Seventy hours plus another fourteen hours adds up to 84 hours.The U.S. current shift is 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. The U.S. has proposed to move to 60 hours in seven days. Therefore they are staying close to what they have now. Currently, Western Europe is at 56, and they are moving to 48.

I had someone say to me, "When I saw 84 for Canada, I thought it was a mistake. I thought that you had transposed the numbers and you meant 48, like they have in Europe." Honourable senators, we do not mean 48 as in Europe; we are talking about 84.

The point I want to stress is that Canada is setting world records in terms of the number of hours we require our truck drivers to work. There may be a good reason for that but, frankly, we have not heard it.

Another issue that is very important, and I sort of soft-pedalled it because it confuses the whole subject, is the fact that truck drivers can, for many reasons, be under a great deal of pressure to cheat on the number of hours they work. Many drivers are paid by the mile only when they are moving, so they do not want to count their non-moving hours if they are unloading cargo or waiting at a border, et cetera.

There has been some research on whether truck drivers cheat. One of several studies in the United States indicated that 73 per cent of truck drivers reported that they violated rules. Another study had one-half of truck drivers in violation of regulations. We are not dealing with violations of log books here, but the seriousness of the issue. In one study, almost one in five tractor-trailer drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving during the past month.

I want to raise the issue of the violation of hours and the recording of hours. I do so because there is another significant difference between the Canadian proposal and the American proposal. The Americans are proposing to mandate electronic recorders. This is not exactly rocket science. We are approaching the fiftieth anniversary of electronic recorders in railway locomotives. The Americans are proposing to mandate electronic recorders to help make it more difficult to fudge the hours that drivers are working. They are doing this to level the playing field and to bring back some honesty into the system, to the extent that is possible. In Canada, we say we are studying the matter, but there is no proposal for action in the new Canadian hours-of-work proposal.

I would like to make just one final observation. I suppose it is a bit of a plea. If it is inappropriate, I apologize, but I hope it is not. For the last 15 months my association has been promised public hearings into the hours-of-service proposal. Nothing has happened. After 15 months, you must excuse me if I say that we wonder about the level of commitment of government, whether federal or provincial, to really involve the public in decisions that clearly impact on their safety on the road. We would certainly welcome any support that this committee can offer in this regard, especially if you can provide any sort of endorsement, any support or any advice on the question of public hearings. We hope that the hearings will deal explicitly with understanding why it is necessary that the hours-of-service regulations in Canada must be different from those that are being proposed in the United States. Perhaps there are some good reasons for that. However, let us offer Canadians a chance to hear those reasons and a chance to question them.

With those remarks, I thank you very much for your patience and attention.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Evans. You say that you were promised public hearings. Who promised you public hearings?

Mr. Evans: That matter came up through CCMTA. Public hearings were promised by the chairperson of the CCMTA hours-of-service committee, who was from Transport Canada. Various provincial governments have said that there will be hearings. Part of the problem seems to be that the federal government is saying, "There will be hearings. The provinces will hold them." The provincial governments, the most obvious of which is Ontario, have been saying, "Yes, there will be hearings, but the federal government will hold them." The bottom line, of course, is that no one holds them.

The Chairman: We have not made any promises.

Your membership, of what is that composed? Are they individual members?

Mr. Evans: We have 2,500 names on our mailing list. Our members are not members in the conventional sense because we do not charge membership fees. Most members are members of the general public. A growing number of our members are truck drivers. We do not represent truck drivers in terms of trying to improve their working traditions, et cetera, because the last thing we want to do is compete with legitimate organizations which do that, such as associations, operators, unions, et cetera. However, many truck drivers who are concerned about safety issues have joined our ranks. We also have a small but very important cadre of people who lost loved ones in accidents involving large trucks. Let me tell you that they bring to the whole affair a perspective that is very potent.

The Chairman: Do you receive your funding from individual members?

Mr. Evans: Yes, as well as unions and the Railway Association of Canada. We have approached other corporate groups but they have declined. We tried the government, too.

The Chairman: Why do you think provincial structures should no longer regulate trucking, as is presently the case? Do you feel that they cannot do it?

Mr. Evans: We are concerned about a race to the bottom. There are a number of reasons. We identify with many of the concerns that have been expressed by the trucking associations, such as unnecessary extra burdens including administrative and cost burdens, and so on. They have many good reasons. We are also concerned, as I said, about the potential for a race to the bottom: for example that provinces can compete with one another as to who has the most lax rules, and people advertising "Locate your warehouse in our province because trucking costs will be lower because we have more lax safety rules and, therefore, you will have lower shipping rates," et cetera.

Senator Forrestall: You were talking a moment ago about funding. My understanding is that you have received a significant donation, if you will, from the railways; is that true? What is your total budget and how much would come from the three principal sectors?

Mr. Evans: We have always said that the funding we receive from the railway association is important. We do not talk about how much Mrs. Smith, Mr. Jones or anyone else gives us.

Senator Forrestall: Do you have an opinion as to whether or not, with this amendment, we will just be perpetuating the problem that we have of the cart, if you will, being out in front of the horse, and that we probably should have a national transportation safety code in place with these details worked out?

Mr. Evans: Frankly, we would like to see the federal government certainly have responsibility for safety regulations concerning interprovincial trucking. We think the National Safety Code has not worked. There are too many divisions. We really wonder how Canada can join with two other countries in this respect when our own camp is in such disarray.

Senator Forrestall: I am asking those questions because the other day the minister and at least one of his officials expressed concern about the lack of progress, or the rate of progress, toward a national transportation safety code. We have been talking about it for almost as long as I have been around here, and that is a few years. I ask the question on the basis that the minister would like to see more done, and would like to see the code in place. I do not understand why it has not happened.

Since you are looking at it every day, have you light to shed on why we still do not have a national transportation safety code? Bill S-3 is dealing with an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Transport Act of 1987 and not, as it would seem to me that it should be, to amend the National Safety Code?

Mr. Evans: My response is that many of the provinces want to do their own thing. I get a sense that Ontario likes to think at times that it is big enough that it should set the pattern. I get that feeling, on occasion, about Alberta, et cetera, and so on -- I could point the finger at all the provinces, and perhaps I should not.

The responsibility was passed down to the provinces, with all sorts of promises of pulling together, as I understand it. Now that we have this power, we will all get in the same canoe, and all get the same size paddles and row in the same direction. That simply has not happened.

I see us all caught up in the whole issue of federal-provincial relations. The federal government wants to bring about perhaps a more uniform and effective national policy, but wants to do it without unduly stepping on provincial responsibility, having passed its powers to the province. I see it as a balancing act. That is the perception that I have.

Senator Forrestall: You suggested that you have a concern about the absence of public hearings. Is this body competent to hold public hearings at a level that would satisfy your concerns? Your concerns are widely shared. They are not closely held by CRASH. Could we do this kind of job in the absence of it being undertaken by the Council of Ministers or any other competent group?

Mr. Evans: You are perhaps in a much better position to answer that than I am.

Senator Forrestall: Given that we have limited funds and do not have access to the type of professional resource that could tell us something of driving safety, I am not suggesting that we would, nor am I giving any undertaking, but would it help if this committee did travel with this question? We could deal with the question of a national transportation safety code, because it seems that without that in place, we do not have a vehicle to house the concerns that you have expressed in your documentation..

Mr. Evans: The short answer to the question is "yes". We would like the national hearings to be nation-wide, and we would like them to provide an opportunity for representatives of the public to ask questions, as well as hear information.

Senator Forrestall: I will alert you that I will later take you back to your proposed amendments to make sure I understand them.

Senator Callbeck: On page 3 you have a chart regarding the status of National Safety Code implementation. Your last column gives the weight of trucks. My understanding is that in order to adhere to the National Safety Code, there should be a 4,500-kilogram limit. Some provinces are doing that, and other provinces are not.

It seems to me that the heavier trucks would appear to take a greater toll on the highways in terms of accidents, deaths and repairs to the road. Do you have any statistics to support that? Would that not be the case?

Mr. Evans: The heavier trucks, or the bigger trucks, are typically the tractor-trailers. Off the top of my head, I would say that approximately two-thirds of the fatalities from trucking accidents are from accidents involving big trucks that are tractor-trailers. Approximately one third of the fatalities are from accidents involving straight trucks, which would be the trucks down closer to the 4,500-kilogram level.

Senator Callbeck: I am amazed by the figures for Alberta.

Mr. Evans: Yes.

Senator Callbeck: Does that relationship of fatalities and big truck accidents show up more in Alberta than in other provinces that have a 4,500-kilogram limit?

Mr. Evans: We did a safety report card two years ago. No one had ever done this before. We compared trucking safety performance and trucking safety results, province by province. We looked at fatalities per capita, for example. We found that Alberta had the worse results of any province.

This safety report was dated April 1999. In terms of truck driver fatalities, Alberta had more truck drivers killed in big truck accidents than Ontario, although Ontario has three and one-half times as many licensed truck drivers. The fatalities per capita involving large trucks in Alberta was at least 30 per cent higher than the national average.

Senator Callbeck: What were the results in Saskatchewan?

Mr. Evans: They were very close. Those are the two provinces that we failed.

Senator Callbeck: You have talked about several issues that you feel are pressing for the safety of highways. The legislation talks about having safety certificates to licence vehicles. Are you satisfied with the criteria that will be used for those, or are you advocating that some of these should be included?

Mr. Evans: Some of what?

Senator Callbeck: Some of these issues that you are talking about in here, or do you feel that, as it stands, the bill is adequate?

Mr. Evans: My main concern is national consistency.

Senator Callbeck: It would be provided that this be carried through?

Mr. Evans: I am sorry, are you speaking of our three recommendations, for example?

Senator Callbeck: Basically, would you be happy with the bill if those three amendments were made? Are those your major problems with the legislation?

Mr. Evans: We had an over-riding suggestion. We would like to see the federal government move towards a constitutional authority to regulate interprovincial trucking. We start off with a broad level and then we have three specific suggestions.

Senator Eyton: I wish to return to your proposed amendments. They seem to be modest indeed, as I understand them. They call for greater consultation, which is a good thing. They call for an annual report by the minister, which seems fine enough. They further ask for more precision relative to regulatory power.

My question is: Have these been discussed, and is anyone opposed to those amendments? I am not talking about the elegance of the language. In principle, they seem to be amendments that would be widely acceptable.

Mr. Evans: Other responses are not included in Bill S-3. Perhaps, for whatever reason, there was a desire not to report to Parliament; I do not know.

Senator Eyton: Have these amendments been widely discussed with other parties?

Mr. Evans: Yes.

Senator Eyton: The challenge before us is that a national transportation safety code is an urgent matter. The numbers are startling and concerning. I would like your comments on how you think we should go about managing or prompting the development of an appropriate national transportation safety code, and, thereafter, ensuring that it is adopted and enforced. It seems implicit that there is a need for the federal government to take a stronger role if it is impossible to bring the provinces together. The performance of the provinces seems uneven; lacking in uniformity.

My question is: What are your recommendations on how to develop a safety code on an urgent basis, and how do you get it adopted and enforced within some reasonable time? It seems to take years and years to reach any kind of a decision at all. What is your recommendation?

Mr. Evans: Our recommendation is that the federal government must bite the bullet here. You must give yourselves the necessary authority and do it, even if it means stepping on some provincial toes. You must look very carefully, line by line, at the critical areas where the federal government should act to improve safety.

After so many years in which we have not been able to get everyone going the same way, consultation, discussion and expressions of good intent have all been tried. I believe the federal government must simply state that they have the responsibility for interprovincial trucking in these areas, and that such and such will be done.

The area of medical standards for interprovincial truck drivers might be an easy area to start with. The federal government currently has responsibility for hours of service and should retain that. I think consideration should be given to moving on the whole area of truck size and weight standards. We have a real mishmash here. Maybe that is the kind of thing, to some degree, that could be negotiated with the provinces. If you say to the provinces that you intend to do it, then talk first about what you will do, instead of simply saying, "Here are the new size and weight standards for interprovincial truck movements."

I am starting, I fear, to feel like someone who is way over his head in terms of telling you what to do.

Senator Eyton: I find it hard to imagine why all those involved and interested in the industry are not driving toward uniformity and consistency. It must be terribly complicated, more expensive and a bad way of running things. There should be a core value that all would embrace, and then you could proceed and do it in the right way.

Mr. Evans: It is a question of regionalization. Ours is an oil-patch province, and they happen to like trucks this way, whereas the attitudes of other provinces have evolved in other ways.

Senator Maheu: Mr. Evans, you spoke in your presentation about accident or crash risk. Do you have any facts? It is easy to talk about research and risk, but do you have figures on how bad the accident risk is in actual fact?

Mr. Evans: I shall leave a copy of the document to which I referred This is our provincial comparison. It was based on 1997 statistics. That was the last time that we undertook this type of study. I think you will find it an interesting analysis of trucking safety results and trucking safety programs in Canada. I will be pleased to leave that with you.

Senator Finestone: Our previous witnesses indicated that there used to be 16 guidelines or rules and regulations under the Transportation Safety Act and that that has been revised to 15. The most important one is number 14, which is like an overarching holding tank for all the issues that could find commonality in a coordinated action of consent across all provinces.

It was their feeling that if the provinces individually respected these conditions, then the concerns that I had expressed about the weight of the trucks, the hours of work, the differential in length and weight of trucks with the United States would all be addressed. Our witnesses spoke about divesting the federal authority to the provinces. I did not take favourably to that idea.

I now read in one of your notes -- and I think it is a key aspect -- that when we approved deregulation of entry and exit controls in 1987, the Senate did so on the provision that a national safety code would be implemented to prevent safety from being sacrificed to cut-throat economic competition. The same note says that, in a sense, economic regulation was inseparable from safety regulations.

Would you say that the resolutions that you have put before us cover that particular concern?

Mr. Evans: The resolutions address that concern, in part. The most important requirement is that the federal government take back some of this power.

Senator Finestone: Did you ever hear of the federal government taking back what they gave away? They only pay the bills.

Mr. Evans: I concede.

Senator Finestone: In a sense, the worries you have expressed relate to issues that are outside of what is supposed to be the intent of this bill. Is that assessment accurate?

Mr. Evans: We are concerned that the bill does not say or do certain things. For example, we are concerned that the bill does not require an annual report, which we think is important.

Senator Finestone: An annual report to whom and by whom?

Mr. Evans: By Transport Canada on the National Safety Code to Parliament.

Senator Finestone: To Parliament through the minister?

Mr. Evans: Yes. We think the question of intent is important. There is reference in the bill to government consultation with industry. We think it would be more respectful of reality and the rest of us if it included government consultation with industry, safety organizations, truck and bus driver unions, owner-operator organizations and the general public, or something to that effect.

Senator Finestone: Do you not believe that before drafting this bill the government held consultations and focus groups on it?

Mr. Evans: We were not involved, although that may be because we were not aware of it. I am not imputing blame.

Senator Finestone: You are here to speak to the interests of truck drivers, so I presume that truck drivers know your position and know that you are appearing here?

Mr. Evans: We do not represent truck drivers.

Senator Finestone: I did not say that you represent them, but you are here to speak to their issues and the issues of the citizens of Canada. Therefore, I presume you spoke to some truck drivers. I have spoken to truck drivers who have told me that they do not like driving such long hours.

You would not appear on this bill without speaking to them, would you?

Mr. Evans: No.

Senator Finestone: Is it your sense that, for the most part, truck drivers are on side with owners? Are most trucks driven by their owners or are the drivers employed by companies?

Mr. Evans: There is a mix. There are truck drivers who work for hiring hall operations.

Senator Finestone: They are for hire?

Mr. Evans: Yes. There are service bureaux that provide drivers; there are truck drivers who do work directly for carriers, some of whom are unionized and some of whom are not; and there are owner-operators.

Senator Finestone: Would you say that the economic interests of the "for hires" would outweigh the economic well-being and the health of the drivers?

Mr. Evans: Truck drivers will very often tell you that they are making less money now than they were making 20 years ago, and they are having to work longer hours. This is basically a result of deregulation. Ease of entry into the trucking industry has squeezed everyone.

Senator Finestone: Would you say that is bottom-line profit?

Mr. Evans: Yes.

Senator Finestone: I do not mind bottom-line profit so long as it is not to the detriment of the person making the profit.

Mr. Evans: They are being squeezed.

Senator Finestone: What does a truck driver earn?

Mr. Evans: Many truck drivers are making little more than minimum wage for the hours they actually work.

Senator Finestone: Little more than minimum wage?

Mr. Evans: That is right.

Senator Finestone: I have heard something very different. Do we know anything about the earning power of drivers of big trucks?

The Chairman: Our other witnesses will have some figures. You can question them, Senator Finestone.

Mr. Evans: Statistics Canada has statistics on truck drivers' earnings.

Senator Finestone: Interprovincial trucks cost a huge amount of capital. Owners want the operators of such equipment to be responsible for taking care of those trucks. They will not pay them minimum wage.

Mr. Evans: As you point out, there is a huge investment in a truck. In addition to paying for the truck, they must pay for insurance and repairs, and we have heard about the difficulties caused by fuel prices. That is what I am talking about. In a number of instances, what they take home for the hours they work, which can be very long, is not much above minimum wage.

Senator Finestone: If there is no change to this legislation, will truckers be unhappy and will Canadian citizens be worse off?

Mr. Evans: Our major concern is with the hours-of-service issue, which is governed by regulation. Setting that aside, we would have hoped for improvement in the bill itself. We do not see the suggestion of enough improvement in the bill.

Senator Finestone: Of national standards?

Mr. Evans: Particularly of the national standards.

Senator Finestone: Therefore your first concern is national standards, and your second is reporting mechanisms?

Mr. Evans: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Setlakwe: I am not too clear about your association of hours of work with the minimum wage. What does one have to do with the other?

Mr. Evans: Due to the high cost of trucks, the high cost of fuel, and the fact that people can get into the industry so easily and undercut rates, truck drivers are increasingly making less and less after costs. In order to put food on the table, many of them are under tremendous pressure to work as many hours as possible, and that often includes hours that are not reported in their log books.

Senator Setlakwe: But they are not working longer hours at a lower wage.

Mr. Evans: Per hour they are, effectively, getting close to minimum wage. In order to earn $40,000 per year, they must put in very long hours.

The Chairman: Our consultant can provide us with some figures on that.

Mr. Martin Brennan, Consultant to the Committee: I have some figures taken from Transport Canada's annual report of 1999. It gives average weekly earnings in the trucking industry by province, and the national average is $669 per week. It does not say how many hours that is based on.

Senator Finestone: When a couple of my sons who have university degrees were looking for jobs, they said that they were going to drive truck because they could earn six figures. I will tell them that they have made better choices because they certainly would not earn six figures according to these statistics.

Senator Forrestall: Mr. Evans, Senator Eyton asked you about your proposed amendments, and I would like to share with him my general support for those amendments. An income of $34,000 a year is not very much money for a man who is working 10, 12, 14, 18 hours a day. We have no idea, however, what percentage of the truck drivers are earning that.

I have been looking at these figures, and I see that urban transit, which is a short distance, scheduled intercity service, is included. That is not long-haul at any stage.School buses, we know what they involve. Incidentally, they are the largest revenue earners. Charter services could be somewhat longer distance. There is nothing really to be gained there by a comparison. There is no real way we can judge.

If school bus drivers are to be included, I would be somewhat disturbed to know that we would be asking them to work those sort of hours. Of course, you will not get urban transit bus drivers because they work more reasonable hours and they do not drive long distances. However, the intercity bus drivers do. I do not know whether you can help us in this regard.

I can tell you, with a great deal of experience, what 10 hours of driving is like in a comfortable car. I would not like to try it in a bus or a big truck.

Do we have any way of knowing about the intercity, long distance bus drivers?

Mr. Evans: Many of the intercity bus drivers, working for scheduled carriers, are unionized and working under collective agreements, which tend to improve their lot. The problem with bus drivers, as I understand, is in the tour bus area. This is the driver who picks up passengers at the hotel at seven o'clock in the morning, sees them off at 9 or 10 p.m. that night, and then must clean the bus. There is some concern about the working conditions of tour bus operators. Some of the tour bus operations are small companies. I hesitate to use the term "fly by night," but that may be appropriate in some instances.

Senator Forrestall: It is difficult question to get at because, on the one hand, working 10 or 12 hours a day, four or five days a week, if you are on some kind of piecework and you are not driving long distances, it is not as if you are going to Mexico, or out to Vancouver or Winnipeg. That I would consider an extraordinarily long distance. Toronto is a long distance. Believe me, Halifax to Quebec City is a solid 10-hour drive in a comfortable car.

Can you help us with what to propose in this regard? As you were talking, I was looking quickly at what is likely to be unionized, and they are on an hourly rate or some other basis. People are paying basic mileage and the rates are quite low.

Mr. Evans: Many of the problems are with the owner-operator truck drivers.

Senator Forrestall: What about the privately owned trucks?

Mr. Evans: Many trucks are, in fact, owner-operated. If you mean the various stores, wholesalers and so on, often they are owner-operator vehicles.

Senator Forrestall: In the new standards, in association with those standards, is there a method of checking the private truck owner?

Mr. Evans: It does not matter who the owner of the truck is; the regulations apply equally.

Senator Forrestall: How is that policed?

Mr. Evans: Through the log book.

Senator Forrestall: Irving Oil is a big trucking entity, and they can tell us pretty much what is going on, but how do you know that, in a family operation, the truck is not being driven 24 hours a day? Is there any way that this can be policed?

Mr. Evans: There are log books. The problem is that it has been proven that log books are too susceptible to manipulation. That is very common information in the industry. They talk about drivers having two or three log books. In other words, as a driver you have a couple of log books: one for remuneration, that is presumably accurate, and another one to show to the police officer, or the inspector, if you get stopped, and that is commonly called the "comic book."

Incidentally, if I may add, our discussions here have bordered on the issue of the salary and conditions, et cetera, of truck drivers. I have here a book written by a professor of industrial relations at the University of Michigan who, in an earlier life, for 10 years was a truck driver. Therefore, he knows what he is writing about. He is writing about the sweat-shop type of conditions that truck drivers face. He talks about the close-to-minimum-wage salary. He is an American so he is writing in the American context. There is a large amount of good statistical information in this book. I can provide a reference on how to get a copy.

Senator Forrestall: Who is the main beneficiary of these proposed rules regarding numbers of hours that can be driven: the driver, the owner, or the big company?

Mr. Evans: It is certainly not the driver. In our view, it is the company. There is a problem. That physical truck, other than when it is being refuelled or repaired, can keep on going, but it is the human being who insists on doing foolish things like sleeping and eating. If you can get more hours out of that human being, then you obviously improve your return on your investment in the truck.

Also, if you can get more work out of the drivers you now have working for you, then you do not need to increase the rates that you are paying those drivers in order to attract additional people when you are faced with a shortage of drivers or a workload problem.

Senator Forrestall: I appreciate your attendance and I know of your concern.

Senator Finestone: I gather that I missed the beginning of the presentation, which I regret, but I was looking at the charts that are behind us and they are very disquieting. There is no question that, if you look at the violation of hours of service, that is one thing. If you look at the maximum number of hours per week, we see gaps between what is acceptable in Europe, what is acceptable in the United States, and the Canadian experience.The figures go from 56 hours in Europe, 60 hours in the United States, and the 84 hours being proposed for Canada. That needs to be considered, and yet this bill does not cover that particular aspect. I believe it is something on which we should be more firm in our questioning when the minister comes back.

That crash risk really bothers me. If 1.8 drivers driving over eight hours are having crashes, and at nine hours that figure is up to 6.2 drivers, and the proposal is that they drive 10 or 12 hours, what are we asking for? We, in our cars, are the ones at the other end. These big trucks are running beside us. If their drivers are sleepy, you and I will be unhappy people. I find that proposition disquieting.

The Chairman: Do you have a question?

Senator Finestone: No. I felt that we ought to keep these matters in mind before the charts disappear from our screen, as we may not remember them. I wonder whether we could have copies of these visual aids to send to the minister and the deputy minister?

Mr. Evans: If I may add something: I had intended to come with copies of those charts. They are prepared, but I was afraid of being delayed, so they did not accompany me. However, I can send them.

The Chairman: If you could send them, they will be distributed to the members.

Our next witnesses are from the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

Welcome, gentlemen. Please proceed.

Mr. Graham Cooper, Senior Vice-President, Canadian Trucking Alliance: Good evening, honourable senators. First, I must apologize for not being in a position to provide you with our written brief in advance. However, I will speak to it in summary, and of course you will have copies of it distributed by now.

First, let me say a few words about who we are. The Canadian Trucking Alliance is a federation of the seven provincial and regional trucking associations in Canada, collectively representing some 3,000 motor carriers from coast to coast. Until 1997 we were known as the Canadian Trucking Association. We became an alliance, a federation, in 1997, after some 60 years.

We heard much about safety in the previous presentation. I wish to highlight several things. I will refer to a Transport Canada report that deals with accident statistics involving commercial vehicles between 1994 and 1998. During that period of time the number of straight trucks as well as tractor-trailers involved in collisions declined by over 5 per cent, and the number of those same vehicles involved in fatal collisions during that period dropped by almost 14 per cent. Perhaps most noteworthy is that, during that same period, for-hire trucking tonne-kilometres increased by over 37 per cent. In other words, the exposure during that period was significantly higher, and accident rates, in fact, went down.

Transport Canada reports that, for 1998, only 2 per cent of commercial vehicles involved in collisions were found to have mechanical defects. Commercial drivers involved in fatal collisions were determined to be driving properly in 80 per cent of cases.

I am not sure how many are familiar with a process called Roadcheck. It is a North American safety blitz conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which is a tri-national body. During the annual Roadcheck conducted in the year 2000, inspections revealed that 87 per cent of Canadian vehicles passed the most stringent inspection procedures, and 98 per cent of drivers passed their inspections. It is noteworthy that those numbers are 4 percentage points better than comparable numbers in the United States.

While the industry's safety performance has shown improvement over the years and, in our view, will continue to improve, we in the CTA and our provincial association partners work closely with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, or CCMTA, in an ongoing attempt to develop and see implemented more effective and equitable -- and, frankly, in many cases tougher -- safety regulations. That is what this appearance is all about.

The vast majority of motor carriers involved in trucking in Canada are safe operators. They put a high premium on safety. They know safety is good business. It is good for their employees and enables them to attract new employees. The list is long, as I am sure honourable senators know, in terms of the reasons to do things properly in business.

However, there are the few bad apples out there who tend to make the headlines in national and local papers. Frankly, those bad apples sully the reputation of the entire industry. It is our view that through mechanisms such as the National Safety Code and the National Safety Code standard 14 on safety ratings, there is a mechanism available, albeit perhaps not used as effectively as we might like to see, to get those bad apples out of the industry.

When the minister introduced Bill S-3 in January, he made reference to the National Safety Code standards, the underpinning for Bill S-3. As you know, in particular, the National Safety Code standard we are referring to is standard 14, which deals with safety ratings.

In the previous session, I believe I heard the minister, or one of the Transport Canada members, commenting, as we have done right from the outset of these discussions with respect to standard 14 in 1994, that that standard potentially is the most important of all the National Safety Code standards in that it acts as a measure of a motor carrier's performance against all the other standards. I believe this point was raised earlier. For that reason, a high premium must be put on the successful implementation of standard 14, and we support its inclusion as the foundation for the amendments to the MVTA.

However, after seven years at the CCMTA, with government and industry working together, we still see an alarming lack of consistency in the safety rating systems being used across the country. In fact, currently we are years away from having a consistent national safety rating system.

Our written brief provides a historical perspective. I will not dwell on it now, except to point out several interesting recommendations made by the National Transportation Act Review Commission. Let me briefly read two recommendations from the NTA Review Commission.

Recommendation No. 5:

We recommend that the Minister of Transport appoint a senior representative to chair a working group to resolve expeditiously the inconsistencies of regulation, interpretation and enforcement respecting safety aspects of extra-provincial trucking. In the event that implementation and enforcement of an acceptable standard of safety regulations, including the National Safety Code for Motor Carriers, have not been achieved by March 31, 1994, then the federal government, with respect to jurisdictions not in compliance, should withdraw the delegation to administer extra-provincial trucking regulation and/or withhold federal contributions to highway infrastructure.

Referring to recommendation number 7, the commission recommended that:

...the Minister of Transport negotiate with provincial governments to standardize operating and technical standards affecting the trucking industry's efficiency. If such standardization cannot be achieved by March 31, 1994, the Minister of Transport should introduce legislation providing for uniform operating and technical standards for extra- provincial trucking to be administered by the provinces.

Sadly, some 16 years after the report "Freedom to Move", tabled by the then Minister of Transport in 1985, and some seven years after the report of the National Transportation Act Review Commission, we are not much closer in many respects, and not one of the 16 standards has been implemented in a consistent manner in all jurisdictions. Some come close, but there are some with a significant variation. Standard 14, the one about which we are most interested for the purpose of this discussion, is one of those.

While there have may have been good intentions at the time of trucking deregulation to use the CCMTA as a mechanism to ensure that trucking regulation over extra-provincial trucking would be consistently applied across the country, the fact is that the mechanism in place under CCMTA is flawed. There are many people who work on many committees and project groups, both industry and federal and provincial government people, and public safety groups -- the list is quite varied -- and those people are all invited to every single meeting of the CCMTA. When an agreement is reached and consensus is supposedly achieved by members of the CCMTA, there is unfortunately no mechanism in place to ensure that, by the time they get off the plane on their way home, they have not changed their minds and made contrary recommendations to the ministers.

I am not casting aspersions on particular officials, but we know from past experience that though agreements have been reached, and we think consensus positions have been taken, the provincial regulations that have resulted from those discussions, often over periods of many years, have not lived up to the consensus position reached. This is largely a problem of accountability.

In August of 2000, Transport Canada released a consultant's report dealing with the state of readiness of the provinces to implement standard 14, and particularly concentrating on the issue of national consistency, which seems to be the word of the day when we talk about this particular issue. The consultant wrote a comprehensive and lengthy report. I certainly will not attempt to summarize that report in any way, but I would draw your attention to three or four key findings, and to some comments that he made in his report.

First, with respect to what kind of performance it would take in different jurisdictions for a motor carrier to have a rating downgraded or upgraded, the consultant found significant variation.

...In three jurisdictions, the carrier was given a Conditional rating within five months of starting business. In four jurisdictions, a Conditional rating was given in the second year of operation. In Manitoba, the rating procedures bump the carrier to a position where two rating levels -- from Satisfactory Unaudited to Unsatisfactory -- may be considered in one move in year three. And in Alberta, the rating had not been downgraded to Conditional at the end of the three years. There is no consistency here.

Another one of his findings:

...the difference in the number of events required to change a rating in one jurisdiction versus another is very large, often varying by a factor of ten or more...

He continues:

Jurisdictions have different policies on intervention levels (at what point on the threshold does something happen?). They have different policies on actual interventions (warning letters, interviews, audits, hearings, etc.). And they have different policies on ratings associated with each of these intervention levels or interventions. Some make a Conditional rating automatic at a certain point on the threshold; others make it only when an audit fails; and still others only consider a Conditional rating after a review panel has made a judgment.

He also pointed out that his report was only a research report, and that in the final analysis it is really the political will that will determine what happens.

In a comment rarely, if ever, seen in a report of this type, the consultant wrote:

It is difficult to understand how jurisdictions can develop a standard, agree to it, and then ignore significant aspects of it. What, it might be asked, was the point of having a standard?

Since that report was tabled at the CCMTA working group and the consultant discussed his findings and recommendations with government and industry members of that group, work has been ongoing to attempt to address some of the major inconsistencies, and it was agreed that in the fall of 2001 a second independent evaluation would take place to see if they were closer. We can only hope we will be closer. However, it is our fear that without a significant commitment of political will and increased funding on the part of the federal government to ensure that the National Safety Code and the National Safety Code standard 14 is consistently applied in all jurisdictions, leadership will be lacking and the safety rating standard may prove to be an unattainable goal.

In our view, the time has now come for the federal government to expend the political capital and financial resources necessary to effectively exercise its constitutional authority over trucking.

We have two main recommendations with respect to policy, and then I will ask Mr. Bergamini to address amendments to the wording of Bill S-3.

With respect to the policy issues that we believe are necessary to put in place what the trucking industry wants, what I believe the federal government wants and, frankly, what I believe many of the provincial governments want, not to mention the public who share the highways with trucks that travel extra-provincially, we believe that the Minister of Transport must lead a concerted effort toward national consistency and provide adequate funding to the provinces for implementation of the National Safety Code.

While there is no magic number, funding must be tied to performance and the federal government must be willing to withhold funding from provinces which do not fall into line. If the funding incentive is not enough, the federal government must be prepared to act on provisions of clause 9 of Bill S-3 and withdraw the authority to issue federal safety certificates from provinces which fail to implement the provisions of the National Safety Code in a form consistent with national consensus. It is not enough to have that provision on the books as part of the leadership role that we hope the federal minister would take; he must be prepared to invoke those provisions and withdraw the ability of provinces that have not complied with the consistency to issue safety certificates under Bill S-3.

I will now turn the microphone over to Mr. Bergamini.

[Translation]

Mr. Massimo Bergamini, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Canadian Trucking Alliance: First of all, I would like to apologize on behalf on the Alliance for not having tabled a French version of our brief with the Committee. Unfortunately, deadlines prevented us to do so.

[English]

Very briefly, the specific amendments we would like to see brought forward to Bill S-3 are contained in pages 5 and 6 of the submission. They must be viewed as a whole, and as I go through these briefly you will understand why.

The first amendment that we propose is under clause 9, the "Withdrawal of power to issue safety certificates." We propose that the word "may" should be changed to "shall". The rationale would be to eliminate ministerial discretion in the face of failure by a province to implement the objectives of the bill. We believe that that strengthens the hand of the federal government considerably.

We believe that the review of provisions is again part of the overall push of these amendments. Rather than reviewing the efficiency of the Act after two years, the minister shall begin review of the Act after two years, and that the report on this review be tabled not only before the Council of Ministers but also before each house of Parliament.

The rationale here is twofold. One is to provide a more timely review of the progress of the implementation of the bill as outlined in clause 3.1. In addition, calling for the report to be tabled before Parliament recognizes the ultimate accountability of the federal minister.

The key amendment is with respect to the coming into force. Here the amendments are underlined. We propose that there be a phased coming into force for this legislation. The amendment is critical in our minds for three reasons: First, it allows for a timely coming into force of cooperation in implementing the objectives of the bill. These are sound objectives, and certainly objectives with which we wholly agree.

Clause 3, clause 3.1 and clause 3.2 of the bill represent amendments to the Motor Vehicle Transport Act that should be adopted and promptly enacted because of their positive impact in the short term. They define a proactive role for the Minister of Transport in working with the provinces in support of the objectives of the bill.

Second, our proposed amendment implicitly recognizes that the bill is based on an assumption of conditions that do not yet exist, namely a national carrier rating system. It has always been our contention that in the absence of such a system, changes to the existing legislation are dangerous because we would run the risk of creating a false sense of accomplishment or closure, not only within the federal government but also among all governments.

Third, our amendment gives the minister political flexibility in his efforts to reach a national consensus on a rating system while, at the same time, providing him the means to exercise the authority implied in clause 9 of the bill. It is important to provide the minister with the political "wiggle room," if you will, to engage the provinces in a constructive fashion. We do not want to see the minister running roughshod over years of efforts and years of system and procedures, but we do believe that the federal government and the Minister of Transport must exercise more leadership.

We believe that this approach provides the minister with the political flexibility while holding him accountable and giving him the tools to move these needed changes forward.

Senator Forrestall: I wish that we had had a copy of your briefing beforehand in order to follow more closely.

I do not see anything particularly wrong with these amendments. However, I cannot move them. I would not get anywhere. I believe that will need to come from the government.However, rest assured that your recommendations are heard. They will be voiced in our report. That is not to say that we cannot make amendments. We can do so.

I wish to refer back to the problem that we were discussing previously, and that continues to concern me. Why is there such great difficulty in getting Saskatchewan and Alberta to fully implement the safety code requirements? Do you have any idea? Why is there such a discrepancy? Newfoundland implemented 12 of them, with two significant deviations. Perhaps you can explain that to us?

Mr. Cooper: You are referring to the crash report card?

Senator Forrestall: Yes.

Mr. Cooper: I am not familiar with that document.

Senator Forrestall: I do not believe that they have licence with these numbers. If you are not familiar with the numbers then that is fine.

Mr. Cooper: It might shed some light on your general concern over Alberta and Saskatchewan if I repeat to you what I heard from officials of those two provinces who have been involved in discussions on safety ratings process.As you are aware, the National Safety Code weight threshold for trucks is 4,500 kilograms. That is in the code. Most provinces comply with that. I think British Columbia might be slightly higher, with I believe something like 5,000 kilograms.

For many years the Alberta limit has been at 18,000 kilograms. Saskatchewan, if memory serves me correctly, has been talking about moving, or is already moving to 11,000 kilograms. I am certainly not here, honourable senators, to speak on behalf of those two provinces. However, I can tell you what their officials have said.

They view the limit of 18,000 kilograms and 11,000 kilograms to be the cut-off point for what they and their ministers might call a "truck" as opposed to a "farm vehicle", for example. We have been told that there are significant difficulties in those two prairie provinces with respect to the inclusion of smaller vehicles, which could be under 11,000 kilograms but would probably be caught in the 4,500 kilogram definition.

Let me add one point, if I may. Some years back, to address this very issue, the working group developing this standard, of which I am a member, attempted to address the weight threshold to see whether there was a number that we could come up with that would be uniform across the country. The provinces of Ontario and Quebec did excellent work and found that the accident rates on smaller vehicles were higher than on the larger vehicles. In their view, they could not justify a recommendation that those trucks be taken out of the equation.

Senator Forrestall: Are these trucks with two trailers called "articulated trucks"?

Mr. Cooper: Yes, 18,000 kilograms would be a tractor-trailer unit.

Senator Forrestall: With how many axles?

Mr. Cooper: The normal tractor-trailer unit on the road would probably have up to six axles. It varies, but the classic 18-wheeler would have six axles.

Senator Forrestall: The 32-wheelers are articulated. How safe are the trucks to drive over a period of 14 hours per day? What do you think about the hours of driving? Are they reasonable? We have a nervous public constituency that has expressed concern. We hear about the numbers of crashes that involve trucks. If you drive from here to Halifax, you might see about 300 tires strewn over the highway -- that is on just one side of the road. I am concerned about safety. Are we forcing truck drivers to work enormous hours? Are we paying them enough money? Can they stay awake for those long hours?

Mr. Cooper: You have asked two or three questions that could take most of the evening to answer. Were you referring to the combination vehicles when you mentioned articulated vehicles?

Senator Forrestall: Yes, I was.

Mr. Cooper: I do not have the statistics with that information with me. However, those statistics will show that those vehicles have an exemplary safety record. Their stability -- lane-tracking capabilities -- are as good as or better than smaller vehicles.

In respect of the hours-of-service issue, this is a complex question, although I must say that I appreciate the concerns of the committee. Frankly, we do not have the facts and figures at our disposal today to debate, or rebut, comments that have been made by others. I point out, however, that there is research and then there is research -- we have research also. In fact, honourable senators, I believe you have a copy of a paper that we provided to you some time ago. It was prepared for us by one of Canada's leading sleep researchers, who is chair of the Research Ethics Board, at the University of Toronto, Toronto Hospital Network. He is well reputed across the world, indeed, and not just in Canada.

One point was raised in that research, and that was on the front page of the report that he prepared for us as we approached the public consultation process. His words were, as I recall, "The 84-hour work week issue is a red herring. There are ways that you can structure that to make it look like an 84-hour work week, but in reality, it is five shifts, then 36 hours off duty, which would allow two principle sleep periods, and then continue." If you pick a seven-day period of time in isolation, it can be called a week, if you want. However, in light of that same schedule, our sleep researcher stated that if a driver gets the appropriate amount of sleep on an ongoing basis -- the six or seven hours that he needs every night -- the number of days that he works is immaterial, because cumulative fatigue is not an issue. The long work week only becomes an issue, from a scientific perspective, when you get into cumulative human fatigue. That same kind of work schedule is, as I understand it, similar, if not identical, to the hours worked by airline flight crews. There are various ways of looking at this issue.

We will debate with our opponents, be they from other modes or from legitimate public safety organizations, over the issue of hours of service and what is right and what is wrong. The fact is that the most important remedy for driver fatigue is sleep. The proposals that are currently before the CCMTA provide for a 25 per cent increase in daily rest time, period.

Senator Forrestall: Did you say 25 per cent?

Mr. Cooper: That is correct. In increase in rest time of from eight hours a day to 10 hours a day.

The provisions also negate a particularly harmful component of the existing rule, which the scientists like to call "phase advance" which means a short day. In other words, jet leg. For example, if you consider today's hours-of-service regime, it is 15 hours working and eight hours off-duty, a total of 23 hours. Theoretically, you could report to work one hour earlier every day, which is bad. These proposals work on a 24-hour cycle -- 24 to 25 hours being the normal human body clock, thereby putting people on the natural circadian rhythm. There are many people working and living with these kinds of shifts. The proposals, while they are complex and may seem alarming initially, have been very carefully thought out not just by industry, as was implied, but by governments and scientists, as well as observers in Canada and the United States.

The CCMTA meetings are open. One could argue that perhaps they form a type of public consultation. One could also argue that they do not provide a large enough venue or audience, or that they do not travel enough to provide truly national consultations. The fact is that anyone who wants to attend can do so, and can be heard. Certainly, it is not my place to speak for the Government of Canada or the provincial governments, but I have every confidence that, notwithstanding the comments that were made here previously, there will be public consultations over and above the CCMTA meetings that have taken place. I believe that will happen fairly soon.

Senator Forrestall: How does the schedule of a trucker working the long haul -- to Mexico, for example -- fit into the requirements of driving on the highways in the United States?

Mr. Cooper: When he is in the United States, he will drive under the United States' rules.

Senator Forrestall: What happens when he is in Mexico?

Mr. Cooper: Hypothetically, he would fall under Mexican rules, yes.

Senator Forrestall: Do they change their tractor at the border?

Mr. Cooper: Just for the record, you mentioned the United States. The United States proposals that were put through are on hold until, I believe, October 2001. They were found to be very complex, and were viewed even by the enforcement community to be largely unenforceable. They were not seen to be the most effective type of regime. Congress asked the Department of Transportation to put them on hold, and not proceed with the rule-making until October of this year, and use that one year period to gather better information than they had.

Senator Forrestall: Have you put any dollar figure on your suggestion of what the federal government must now spend, politically and monetarily?

Mr. Cooper: No, but I can tell you that there is a National Safety Code funding agreement in place, which appears not to be enough.

Senator Finestone: How much is that?

Mr. Cooper: I believe it is $20 million over four or five years. I am not certain of that, but it is in that order of magnitude. The share of large jurisdictions with large budgets may not be enough to influence behaviour. For smaller jurisdictions, that may not be the case.

No, senator, I do not have a number in mind. I am not privy to the numbers, but if $4 million or $5 million a year is not enough, then it obviously must be more than that.

Senator Forrestall: While you are trying to suggest that accidents have decreased, I am from Missouri and you will have to prove that to me.

Mr. Cooper: I am well aware that accidents happen and, as I mentioned at the outset of my remarks, we as a trucking association and the good carriers, who are the majority, want to get those bad guys off the road; people who do not take proper care of their tires and cause accidents.

Senator Forrestall: We are concerned about whether we are paying our truck drivers enough, and whether they are safe. Are bus drivers safe? Are they subject to the same regimes?

Senator Callbeck: We have talked a lot about hours of work. According to this chart, truck drivers in the United States earn quite a bit less than do drivers in Canada. Has it always been that way?

Mr. Cooper: It has been for many years. I believe that it was in the 1960s that Canada went to a longer work shift than existed in the United States, largely in recognition of the distance between major centres. For example, for a Toronto-Montreal return trip you need 13 to 14 hours.

Senator Callbeck: Thus the discrepancy began in the 1960s?

Mr. Bergamini: I believe it was in the 1960s.

Senator Callbeck: You represent the provincial trucking associations. Does every province have a trucking association?

Mr. Cooper: Every province has one except for the Atlantic region, which has one trucking association representing four provinces.

Senator Callbeck: Would all the associations agree with your comments on this legislation?

Mr. Cooper: Yes.

Senator Callbeck: We are really dealing here with the safety rating under the National Safety Code. I take it that you agree with the legislation except that you would like to see more teeth in it, and you would like to see it phased in?

Mr. Cooper: Yes, that is exactly right. We would like to see two things apart from the specific amendments to which we referred. First, we want it to have more teeth. We want the federal minister to have not only the authority to withdraw the ability of non-compliant provinces to issue safety certificates, but also to have as many carrots as sticks. That brings me naturally to the issue of the safety code standard itself and what it will take to get it done. I do not believe that there is anyone around that table, or indeed around our board table, who does not want to see it get done. It is just a question of how to do it, how much it will cost, whether there is the required political will at both the federal and provincial levels, and whether we have enough time. As I said, we have already been at this for seven years, and I would be very surprised if it were not another three years before it is finished.

Mr. Bergamini: To summarize our views, the act contains many very positive elements. We have identified the parts at the beginning of the bill that spell out the essence of the problem. However, we do not believe that the legislation as currently written changes the dynamic much. We believe, however, that our proposed amendments would inject a new dynamic into federal-provincial relations and focus the role of the federal minister in ensuring a safe environment.

Senator Finestone: Since you believe that we are years away from a system that has an applicable consensus, is it worth passing this bill, or is this merely a pro forma smoke screen?

Mr. Cooper: I would not put it that way, senator.

Senator Finestone: You are probably more tactful.

Mr. Cooper: One might argue that, in this case, the cart is before the horse.

Senator Finestone: Why didn't I think of saying it that way?

Mr. Cooper: However, as Mr. Bergamini has mentioned in his remarks, there are some provisions which, if enacted now, might help the federal and indeed the provincial ministers in putting the pedal to the metal, as it were, and getting this done.

Senator Finestone: Are you suggesting that the provisions on the last page of your presentation are the ones that should be put into place now?

Mr. Bergamini: That is correct, senator.

Senator Finestone: You know better than I that if this does not work, you have, in the first instance, deregulated and given the provinces the responsibility for a federal-provincial Act that is not working. Second, it is very difficult to recuperate something of that nature. Third, the minister told us yesterday that this is a $40 billion industry. You say that you exceed $20 billion, so you represent half of the industry.

Mr. Cooper: That is correct.

Senator Finestone: That sounds like a lot of money and a lot of heavy machinery.

You are of the belief that we are years away from a Canadian system and that there are many things that need to be done. You noted that of the 16 standards that were adopted, very few were respected. Therefore, what is the point of taking standard 14 and saying that if this works, everything will work? They would have to look at only one rating. They would ignore hours of work and national standards. They would not have to have a reporting mechanism. There is no transparency.

Mr. Cooper: To clarify, the ratings under standard 14 are arrived at through a series of measures: namely, collisions, convictions, accidents and the like, as well as government auditors examining maintenance records, et cetera.Therefore, you could not get a satisfactory safety rating if you were materially non-compliant with other standards such as hours of service. If an auditor finds that hours of service log books are not up to date, not clear, not complete, or whatever the case may be, chances are that the carrier will fail that particular section of the audit.

Standard 14 is a kind of composite. It brings together a motor carrier's compliance with all the other standards: the trip inspection standard, the hours of service standard, the CBSA inspection standards. The list is long, obviously. It has the potential, therefore, to make the entire National Safety Code more effective.

Senator Finestone: Would that mean doing away with numbers 1 to 13?

Mr. Cooper: No.

Senator Finestone: That would be included?

Mr. Cooper: That is right.

Senator Finestone: To get to 14, you must build through 1 to 13?

Mr. Cooper: Precisely. In essence, number 14 judges you on your performance on the others.

Senator Finestone: What percentage of the $20 billion industry that we are referring to do you represent in terms of owners versus driver renters or for-hire trucking?

Mr. Cooper: The majority of our membership is what you would think of as trucking companies. They vary in size and, indeed, many of them are small operations.

Senator Finestone: Like I own one truck, I am a company?

Mr. Cooper: Sure. All the way up to the biggest in the country. The biggest in Canada is quite small compared with the biggest in the United States; nonetheless it is still a fairly sizeable company with thousands of trucks.

Senator Finestone: I was referring to the fact that of the largest percentage of the people being represented through you here tonight, would there be some kind of differential in pressure in terms of owners, as an economic consequence to certain parts of this bill, versus the for-hire drivers?

Mr. Cooper: Are you talking about employee drivers now?

Senator Finestone: Maybe that is the right word.

Mr. Cooper: If I understand your question, senator, you are asking me about the relative risk of the two driver types. Is that the issue?

Senator Finestone: Yes.

Mr. Cooper: The first, and perhaps the easiest group to deal with, would be the employees. They get a T-4 slip and will work a shift and will get paid accordingly.

Senator Finestone: What is the average wage of those employees per year?

Mr. Cooper: I heard a reference earlier that confirmed a little sidebar Mr. Bergamini and I were having. We thought it was $40,000 to $45,000. Irwin Best put out a report from Statistics Canada, which is a good report that I would commend to you, that dealt with the issues of the number of hours worked and those kinds of things. It seems to me that the number is approximately $45,000.

As to the opportunity your sons had, senator, I suspect that they would have perhaps been looking at an owner-operator opportunity. An owner-operator is nothing more than a small businessman. He owns or leases his truck. He enjoys the benefits of profit and he suffers the consequence of loss, obviously, as any small business person would. I can tell you that there are owner-operators who own or lease their tractor, who will be working for large motor carriers hauling trailers to Los Angeles, let us say, back and forth on that line, or to Texas, or to Vancouver. Many of these fellows will have their wives with them, and many of the ladies have their husbands with them. They both will have commercial driver's licences. The truck will be their home. I do not know if you have ever been to a truck show, but these vehicles have many comforts. They will take their trucks on a long trip and perhaps take a vacation once they have delivered their load. Drivers who are prepared to undertake those kinds of trips commonly earn in excess of six figures a year.

Senator Finestone: That is what I have heard.

Let us presume that we say no to this bill, get your act together, get signed, firm commitments and put in a proper penalty clause. What will be the impact on the industry, and would it have any impact on the Canada-U.S.-Mexico FTA?

Mr. Cooper: The penalty clause being what?

Senator Finestone: If this bill does not go through, if you just continue to negotiate to set standards, what are the negative implications of not putting this bill through in the way in which it is now written, or even with your two amendments?

Mr. Cooper: The negative implication might be that, as Mr. Bergamini pointed out, clause 3, I believe, would perhaps put a little bit more emphasis on the need for the federal minister to try to reach consensus with his provincial partners. I would hope that the federal minister would be doing that anyway.

Senator Finestone: He is busy with Air Canada. He has no time.

Mr. Cooper: This is not the first time that he has heard about a consistency problem.

Senator Finestone: The minister did say that yesterday, I believe, in his presentation. The minister was candid and straightforward in acknowledging that there were some problems, and he seemed to be concerned about that. He is, in a sense, reflecting what you are telling us tonight.

Mr. Cooper: With respect to the second part of your question, with respect to Canada and the U.S., there are, as I understand it, bilateral agreements in place between those two countries to recognize each other's safety ratings system. Both have difficulties in terms of developing a good safety rating system. Nonetheless, in the event that the bill were not enacted any time soon, those bilateral agreements, I expect, would get the job done. In other words, that would not prevent Canadian vehicles from entering the U.S., and vice versa.

Senator Callbeck: I have a question about the hours of driving. I understood you to say that Canada and the U.S. were about the same until, in the early 1960s, this started to change, and that research showed that humans are capable of these long hauls that we are doing in Canada. If that is the case then why are they decreasing the hours in the United States and Europe, and why is Canada increasing the hours? Why are Canadians, specifically, capable of making these long hauls?

Mr. Cooper: Going back to the earlier days, long before I got into this business, I believe it was recognized that the hours-of-service rules should be reflective of the type of economy and the type of infrastructure you are dealing with. The U.S. economy is very much a hub-and-spoke type economy. They do not have the huge distances in the States that we must deal with here in Canada. Europe is a whole different situation in terms of distances that need to be travelled there. However, are Canadians superhumans compared with their American counterparts? The answer is no. Are there political imperatives in the United States that might make hours of service there lower than they are here? Probably. However, the landmark Canada-U.S. fatigue/alert study, which was completed at the end of 1996, essentially showed that there was no material difference in the fatigue of Canadian drivers and U.S. drivers operating on day shifts. In other words, a 13-hour day in Canada was not giving performance decrements compared with Americans who were working 10 hours a day. After all, much of this depends on what you do during your off-duty time. You could have a 10-hour shift with 14 hours off duty, but if you spend 7 of those off-duty hours digging a ditch or partying, then you will not be as rested as a Canadian driver who went home and went to bed because he knew he needed to sleep.

As I mentioned, there are a host of scientific studies. We can provide you with the scientific information that we have at our disposal. I shared one report with Senator Forrestall a few weeks ago at an informal meeting. I can provide that report to this committee and it will show the other side of the story on hours of service.

The Chairman: If you have further information, please send it to us and we will distribute it to the members of the committee.

Mr. Bergamini: It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the proposed standard of our service sets out to develop the basic safety framework. In other words, the objective of the committee was to develop the best understanding of a safe hours-of-service regime. In reality, very few drivers work these kinds of hours.The Statistics Canada survey mentioned earlier showed that very few drivers work those kinds of hours.

The test is very simple: Are the proposals safe? Do they improve the safety environment? On both those tests, the answer, I believe, is a resounding yes, notwithstanding what other people may say. We are very comfortable with them, having been involved in that process.

I urge the committee not to lose sight of what is the real acid test: Do those proposals provide for a safer environment? I believe the answer is yes.

Senator Finestone: What if you have the best constitution and the best rules in the world, but they are not respected and there is no penalty, nor any reporting mechanism? You did not speak to the question of a reporting mechanism. Without a reporting mechanism, there is no transparency nor accountability. In the current environment, national standards as yet have not been applied in full measure, so where is the accountability?

Mr. Bergamini: You are absolutely correct. This process ensures that we move forward on the issues covered by this legislation. We need a national, harmonized safety-rating system. We need proper enforcement and proper recording. Some people will try to bend the rules. A regime is required that ensures that those people are caught and punished. It is that simple.

The Chairman: We have learned much this evening. If you have further information, please do not hesitate to send it to us.

Senator Forrestall: Are you in favour of this bill?

Mr. Cooper: In principle, yes, we are in favour, provided we can get standard 14 in place on a national basis, yes.

The committee adjourned.