Auditor general reports in Manitoba and Ontario, released this fall, uncovered some major shortcomings when it comes to enforcement of regulations governing Commercial Motor Vehicle Carriers, drivers, and monitoring of the programs and people who are responsible for administering and enforcing the regulations as they currently exist. The shortcomings that were highlighted in these reports do not come as a surprise to the PMTC or most other industry stakeholders, as we have been sounding alarm bells with regulators for quite some time, and how these shortfalls are allowing non complaint and dangerous carriers to continue to operate, and in some cases, thrive with a business case that involves willful neglect of the law, creating and unfair advantage, while having no regard the safety of the motoring public, or their own employees for that matter. To the Ministry’s credit in both jurisdictions, they did acknowledge and agree with the shortcomings discovered by the AG and outlined plans to either act or study the problems in a look to address them going forward. Admitting you have a problem is a good first step, and words are appreciated, however only clearly developed and implemented action plans will solve the problems. To many times in the past, words and acknowledgement of problems is where the actions ended, with no clear implemented plans ever introduced.
Each AG made many recommendations based on issues they discovered in the audit, while not all issues discovered in both jurisdictions were the same, some commonalties between jurisdictions included.
- Insufficient human resources to properly conduct roadside vehicle inspections.
In Ontario the number of level 1 inspections conducted dropped 22% between 2014 and 2018, while truck traffic increased by 10%.
In Manitoba the actual number of level 1 inspections increased by 104% from 2015 to 2018 as a result of inspection targets, however it was discovered most inspections were performed between May and September. It was also discovered that predictable operating hours of scales and mobile officers allow non-compliant carriers to avoid travel when officers are likely to be on duty. Operating hours mean 48% of CMV’s travel at a time when no scales are open.
Both AG’s cited a lack of uniformity in how officers conducted inspections and laid charges, with wide variances between officers and districts. Oversight of how the officers performed their duties was also noted as severely lacking.
- Major shortfalls in oversight of MVIS
Both AG’s noted the provinces do not properly monitor stations that are licensed to perform annual safety inspections. There is little oversight performed to investigate shops to ensure they are performing valid safeties. One of the keyways we can ensure the safety of our roadways is to make sure vehicles are properly inspected both at the roadside and at the time of an annual safety…if we have an issue in both area’s, we have a major problem. In Ontario the AG first highlighted this as an area of concern in 1997, 22 years ago, to see little to no action in 22 years is simply something we should not accept from our governments.
- On site audit of carriers
Both AG’s identified areas where the on site audits of carriers to ensure compliance is severely lacking, either in the way these companies are tracked, or in the fact that to few on site audits are conducted to ensure compliance. Many cases were discovered where carriers were allowed to continue to operate for many years with poor safety ratings with no consequences outside of the initial touch.
One of the best ways to ensure carriers are operating safety and promote safety practices within their company, is to perform on site audits or reviews that highlight areas of concern. This allows provinces to work with carriers to help them improve, or eventually shut them down if they can’t or wont.
If it is acknowledged that we have major shortcomings in addressing roadside performance, shops that perform safeties, and operational practices of carriers, we have an issue that needs to be addressed quickly.
We do have some good news…in Ontario the Industry and regulators have been working together for over a year now developing an action plan that was already uncovering and recommending ways to address issues like these. The plan is coming along well, and consultations on how to implement the safety action plan are continuing in early 2020. The key, when this work is complete, is whether or not the province will support the program by supplying the resources to implement the program effectively. Let’s hope that does occur this time, as in the past this is where best laid plans ended. As a carrier would you be allowed to say “sorry, I simply don’t have the resources to implement the safety procedures you require?????. If the answer is no to a carrier, as an industry we can’t allow government to use the same excuse….the time to act is now, and put your money where your words are…