Describe the current health of the trucking industry in your province.
Chris Nash – While the economic climate in Alberta remains stagnant, the trucking industry, as always, remains active in order to serve all Albertans and Canadians. Without trucking, store shelves would be empty. Truckers move the necessities and luxuries of life 24/7.
Susan Ewart – Three weeks ago, my answer was, “The trucking industry in Saskatchewan is alive and well and the STA has been hard at work as advocates for the industry. We have seen a lot of safety measures taken by our governing bodies in the Province, and we are continuing to build these relationships and work closely together to ensure the future health of the industry in Saskatchewan.” Today I am very uncertain, however, I realize that our Association is more relevant now than it may have ever been. The dynamics around trucking has changed drastically in the last three weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are all trying to find our way though ‘the new normal.’ Today, the majority of our members are busy and still actively moving product while we face new challenges with social distancing and access to facilities – all matters we will continue to work on.
Terry Shaw – Like all industries, there is a huge amount of upheaval within trucking right now. There some companies that continue to be busy hauling essential commodities but there are also many trucking companies struggling right now because of the general economic downturn.
What initiative(s) will your provincial association be working on this year?
Chris Nash – The AMTA has a lot of things on the go for 2020. We’ve partnered with WCB-Alberta to help get workers back on the road with the Training on the Job program. In fact, the AMTA is participating in the program and is proud of the work of one of our new instructors, a Training on the Job candidate.
We are amid expanding and cultivating our Research and Innovation Program through which the association can support the commercial transportation industry and stakeholders by playing an active role in the introduction, research, testing and deployment of innovative technologies, systems and processes.
Our Compliance and Regulatory Affairs department will continue to work on the list of top priorities including Hours of Service, Mandatory Entry Level Training, the Foreign Workers Program, Safety Fitness Certificates, Regulatory Interpretations/Applications of Enforcement and the Twinning of Highway 3.And we’re looking at some collaborative opportunities to merge innovation, education and industry, which will have some potential for further association expansion.
Susan Ewart – The STA will continue its work on the image of our industry and our ‘We are Trucking campaign.’ We were having great momentum on these initiatives prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; looking ahead, we don’t want to lose sight of this goal. Today is a relevant time to talk about the impact of the trucking industry, in our society and on our economy, as the #thankatrucker movement continues to take hold. The STA has many initiatives on the go right now; part of our focus has been on the human resources side of trucking. Recently, the STA launched the campaign, We are Trucking, with the objective to improve on the current image of the trucking industry. The STA is also active in regulatory matters for the industry; our province is currently holding Hours of Service consultations and looking at ways to create harmonization in an industry, challenged with red tape.
Terry Shaw – Who knows what the lasting impacts of the current situation might be so until we have more certainty there I’ll advise what we were working on up until a couple of weeks ago. Manitoba’s Office of the Auditor General released a report concerning oversight of commercial vehicle safety. We were unsurprised by the findings in the report, and we will be working to follow-up on implementation of the recommendations. We are also trying to seek a balance concerning the government’s recent increased biodiesel mandate in the province, as well as following up on other environmental initiatives including a truck electrification pilot. We are also acquainting ourselves with new government ministers, due to our recent provincial election and subsequent cabinet shuffle.
Let’s talk technology: what advancement(s) in technology are and will be beneficial for drivers, employers and/or the industry and why?
Chris Nash – We were thrilled with Alberta Transportation’s approval of New Generation Wide Base Single Tires (NGWBST) on the province’s highway system in 2017, but we still have work to do with municipalities. A pilot project conducted at that time found NGWBST increase fuel efficiency while providing a smoother ride and better traction and we feel blanket approval will benefit drivers, employers and industry overall.
Last spring, the AMTA received funding for the Alberta Zero Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC) in which two of our member Carriers will participate in a pilot project for a hydrogen fuel freight project running until mid-2022, we’re excited to see what the project will accomplish for industry and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.And something we’ve recently been delving into is virtual reality and how that software could be more financially viable to augment driver training in the future.
Terry Shaw – One of the initiatives we were pursuing pre-COVID was a truck electrification pilot project. We feel that this is a viable option for our industry but there are many questions – not least among them performance and weather-related issues. We are looking forward to an opportunity to answer some of those questions in a pragmatic way that allows our pilot to wrap-up as these trucks are ready to roll off the assembly line for mass use. The soon-to-be ELD mandate is also one that will be beneficial to our industry as it creates a level playing field for participants.
Are there any news developments or offerings in training that your membership (province-wide) should keep an eye out for?
Chris Nash – In the past few years we’ve sharpened our focus on education programs including our Certified Transportation Safety Professional (CTSP) and Certified Transportation Safety Coordinator (CTSC) designations. Upon conclusion of the CTSP course, an individual can develop and manage a carrier’s road transportation safety and compliance programs in part or in whole, while a CTSC can assist in that role. Just this fall we released an online Aggregate Hauling course, free until the end of the year, and we’re working on development of several new courses revolving around driver and labour training which we see becoming more recognizable, transferable education for industry.
Susan Ewart – Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, things were moving along with COR; now, we are working on how to offer some of this training virtually. We are launching the Trucking Industry Certificate of Recognition courses in March of this year. After a thorough review of both Manitoba and Alberta’s programs and a survey of our members, who are currently COR Certified, we have officially adopted the Alberta program and are now currently in the process of customizing it for Saskatchewan OH&S regulations – and any other unique identifiers to our province. We could not of gotten this far without the collaboration of both Alberta and Manitoba: working collectively towards harmonization of programs for trucking and creating standardized educational offerings. We will be working with Manitoba on reciprocity for members, who are COR certified in Manitoba and have operations in Saskatchewan. We have a bit of work to put in here first before we can move forward with the reciprocity, however, it is something that Saskatchewan is committed to. Our collaboration with Alberta has allowed the Saskatchewan Trucking Association to grow and we are very excited to have our first courses being delivered in March 2020. Our program is endorsed by Mission Zero/WorkSafe Saskatchewan and we are thankful to both provincial associations assisting us in development of the program.
Terry Shaw – Working closely with the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), we are close to launching the Next Gen program, which is a training program for future leaders of the trucking industry. This program has been adopted in other provinces as well, so will provide a degree of continuity among future leaders as they work together in different areas of the country. Like many other organizations we’ve also recently been challenged to move many of our courses online while keeping them efficient and effective.
How is your relationship with your provincial government at present?
Chris Nash – We have a good relationship with government and will continue to work with them on gaining momentum on AMTA lobbying efforts. Some recent Compliance and Regulatory Affairs wins with government include annual 5.3m height permits for the Peace Region, the implementation of the Alberta Transportation International Registration Plan Online System (ATIOS) to save time on prorate processing and the development of our aforementioned top policies, and red tape reduction policy position papers.
Susan Ewart – The STA has positive working relationships with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training. Our government is very personable, and we have enjoyed building a relationship based on trust.
Terry Shaw – I would say that both our federal and provincial governments have responded well to the current crisis. We’ve been in regular communication with both and both have been very good in using or seeking our industry feedback quickly. We’re all in this together and we need to acknowledge their efforts.
Safety is and always will be a cornerstone of the trucking industry. What are some of your association’s plans in the area of safety for 2020?
Chris Nash – We’re amid working with other associations and industries to harmonize training. We have seen a lot of changes around our Certificate of Recognition department, including the retirement of the Transportation Safety Basics course replaced by Health and Safety Systems Building. There is a new COR auditor certification program and OHS changes in 2019 for health and safety committees and representatives (HSC and HSRs) include elimination of HSC/HSR part one pre-requisite training and revising requirements from site-based to employer based.
Susan Ewart – We are still moving forward with our COR training for the trucking industry and are looking at creative and inventive ways to provide some of it virtually. We plan on launching the three mandatory courses to become ‘Trucking Industry COR Certified.’ We will be working towards reciprocity for our carriers, who are COR certified in Alberta and Manitoba. We will also look to launch First Aid training and, possibly towards the end of 2020 into 2021, the CTSP Designation that is currently available through the AMTA.
Terry Shaw – Continued growth of RPM is always a priority for us, and we are excited that RPM is into a new phase this year: recertification of companies who initially certified three years ago. The first cycle is complete for some of our original program participants. We will also seek out ways to implement the OAG report from December 2019. We have hired new staff to ensure that new policies for our industry are not only well – considered and but shared widely with the membership. Of course, we will continue to address the many other recent safety-related issues as they arise.
What is the latest update on MELT?
Chris Nash – The Association is working with the Canadian Trucking Alliance on what a National Safety Certificate around entry-level training for Canada will look like. AMTA was happy to see the National MOU signed for MELT harmonization across Canada. Also, we would support a single MELT program delivered in Alberta to ensure consistency and quality of training for new drivers in the province.
Susan Ewart – As of March 15, 2019, MELT is mandatory for any Saskatchewan resident wanting to obtain a Class 1A license. SGI has formed a MELT advisory group, which includes the STA. The advisory group and SGI are working collectively to make improvements to the program.
Terry Shaw – Prior to it being paused to meet current health protocols, we were still working out the wrinkles on the program in Manitoba. One of the biggest issues was the length of time it takes between booking an appointment and actually completing the test, which is not solely a MELT-related issue. A group that is also impacted by this testing delay is applicants in the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP). It was taking a long time for these potential drivers to be tested and therefore out on the road. We were working closely with our MELT-accredited driver training schools, carriers who use MPNP, and MPI to resolve this issue.
Have recent efforts (provincially and nationally) to raise the profile of the trucking industry been effective?
Chris Nash – Yes, especially with things the Association has been accomplishing with events becoming more public facing. For example, our Professional Truck Driving Championship in 2020 will be bigger than ever before and we’re continually increasing public awareness and perception shining a positive light on industry and showing Alberta commercial transportation is open for business.
The Board approval of our Research and Innovation Program allows for opportunity and partnerships with a variety of industries, also raising transportation’s profile.
Susan Ewart – You don’t have to look any further than the COVID-19 pandemic to see how the trucking industry’s profile has been raised. With the federal and provincial governments identifying trucking as an essential service, the men and women who work in trucking are now front and centre during this public emergency. They are truly the ones who are driving our economy and ensuring that all of us have what we need during this stressful time. All associations have been working diligently on the CTA Top 10 List and Saskatchewan has been working closely on many of the issues with the various levels of Government in our province.
Terry Shaw – The CTA group’s #ThankATrucker campaign has been very helpful in raising the profile of the trucking industry. What those of us in industry all knew has now been officially recognized – trucking is an essential service. Much thanks to everyone in our industry – especially those out on the frontlines, our truck drivers.
How have things progressed in your association’s work in addressing the driver shortage?
Chris Nash – There are many factors contributing to the driver shortage such as an aging workforce and lack of underrepresented groups including women, youth and Indigenous groups. Main issues revolve around attraction, retention and industry image perceptions. The association has brought on an Industry Workforce Advisor to work with carriers to promote new attraction, education and recruitment methods, while doing a lot of public outreach through career fairs, high school events and more. Also, the AMTA promotes and supports development of a streamlined version of foreign worker entry and the Foreign Worker Program as one of our top lobbying policies with government.
Susan Ewart – The STA has been diligent in this area. The STA just launched our We are Trucking campaign, geared at attracting new people to the trucking industry. Our Association have identified youth and career pivots as a primary target audience of this campaign.
The STA has also been busy working with the YWCA and the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training on a female only class 1A trucking program. 97% of truck drivers in Canada are male, so attracting women to trucking is key
for the STA.
Terry Shaw – As one can image, not much is being actively worked on this issue today. But prior to current events we had met with government officials in various government departments to address this and while they acknowledge their own stats action to address them has been slow. We have also met with other employment resource groups who cannot believe the opportunity available in the trucking industry. So, while we are gaining traction on this issue, it wasn’t necessarily with government stakeholders. Having said that, the Province of Manitoba has invested in a driver training and wage retention program for which we are grateful.
Does your association have a campaign lined-up for this year
that will target a specific issue
or initiative for 2020?
Chris Nash – The AMTA continues to work on several initiatives this year but our biggest would be promotion of and involving industry with the Research and Innovation Program. We are working towards establishing an advisory committee with the goal of harnessing experience from industry, academics and governments to be able to provide input and knowledge towards initiatives, potential projects and areas of interest of the program.
Susan Ewart – We are currently in the process of launching our We Are Trucking campaign aimed at Saskatchewan.
The campaign identifies the role that trucking plays in our economy and tries to dispel some of the myths around what careers in trucking looks like. We launched a series of videos in February 2020 and have new web pages up that direct people, who are interested in what trucking looks like to career opportunities, testimonials and educational paths. We have various messages targeted for LinkedIn, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
The creative team at STA designed the campaign with input from our STA HR Sub Committee and I am very proud of the work they have done. We will continue this work into 2020-2021 and beyond. We have just hit the tip of the iceberg. The STA has a very good working relationship with the Ministry of Career Training and Immigration and we are currently working on the development of a Saskatchewan made program for women in the trucking industry.
We have so many initiatives going on right now with sourcing out Employer resources to find the next talent pool and working on building community relationships and partners in Saskatchewan around trucking opportunities.
Terry Shaw – Our initial push was on the environment, driver training, the OAG report, and infrastructure-related items. We also have staff dedicated to our industry’s HR issues, including an outreach coordinator and communications manager. That said, I believe the landscape post pandemic will be different so we will regroup with our industry members to see what assistance they need from the MTA.
Let’s talk about growth in membership and meeting safety standards/requirements. Do you see a correlation between the two and a continuum of growth (in both areas) this coming year?
Chris Nash – The AMTA continues to see growth in membership and this enables us to act as a Carrier sounding board to ensure membership’s voices are heard at the table when it comes to lobbying efforts and increasing safety in industry.
With undergoing release and development of a number of courses, we’re also seeing growth as a developer and deliverer of safety training and programs.
Susan Ewart – There is definitely a correlation between the two. Safe, compliant companies are usually members of the association. As we get out more into the province and promote our safety prevention and carrier specific training we come across more potential members. Growth is always on our mindset and we want to ensure that we are adding value and services that members and potential members can benefit from.
Terry Shaw – We’ve always said that the MTA, like an insurance policy, provides insurance in support of good policy. Much like an insurance policy, you can’t wait until you have an accident to go out and invest. You need to invest in it, goods times and bad, so that you can be sure it will be there to support you when you need it. We’ve always suggested this to non-members and I think current events have highlighted just how true this is. The MTA and our RPM team were ready with policy and other supports for government and industry alike. A perfect example being that when we heard from members that they couldn’t access the sanitizing supplies they needed, the MTA team sourced, purchased and delivered almost 8,000L of sanitizer to our industry members.
What can your members and
the industry do, individually and collectively, to keep the industry growing and its drivers safe in
Chris Nash – When we saw the introduction of Bill C-30, and the Humboldt Broncos tragedy in Saskatchewan, associations across Canada were pushed towards collaborating in the name of safety and I think that has made industry all the stronger. It’s important to maintain those collaborations and work together to ensure good, safe work practices and policies. For example, how shippers choose their Carriers. More than ever we’re feeling more people are working together to build consistency and harmonization in industry.
Susan Ewart – I believe ensuring that workplaces have created cultures of safety is paramount to growth and attracting drivers and keeping them. We must change the conversation around what trucking looks like not only in our province but across the country. Continued dialogue and relationship building with our Government Stakeholders ensures that Trucking is considered when making regulatory decisions that affect our members.
We will work to educate our members on current HR Practices around changes to the federal labour code and how those regulations apply to their workplace as well as various other training offerings regarding modernizing recruitment and retention strategies.
Terry Shaw – We all have a role to play in safety and growth for our industry in Manitoba. The MTA will continue to be there for our members to support them as they’ve supported their association for almost 90 years. We’re in this together.