The Ontario Trucking Association has released a statement calling upon motor carriers, drivers and shippers to work together to ease pressures at the border and to keep essential deliveries moving.
“The backlog of trucks at the major Ontario-US border points is testing the limits of the North American distribution network, and no one is expecting things to change in the foreseeable future. Trucking companies and their drivers are doing the best they can and are totally understanding of the reasons why the stepped up border checks have been implemented,” says David Bradley, OTA president.
Bradley says he has had excellent co-operation from shipper groups, “but we need to get the message out more broadly.”
The CITA says it is already advising its members to prioritize shipments wherever possible, and is working to keep shippers abreast of new developments in the border backlog.
“We’re asking our members to prioritize their shipments and we’re constantly monitoring the situation with Customs on their website and giving that information to our members,” Sophie Tourangeau, communications manager with the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association, told CT&L.
Carriers, says the OTA, are telling their associations that it is getting harder to convince drivers, who are paid by the mile or by the load, to accept loads when they will be stuck at the border without adequate compensation.
Between trucks being stuck in border line-ups and drivers not wanting to take their vehicles out, Bradley says there is a real fear that the transportation system may run out of capacity.
“We’re all in this together, truckers and their customers,” says Bradley, “and the need for co-operation has never been greater.”
Bradley suggests that both shippers and carriers should be evaluating whether or not a particular load really needs to go all or whether it can wait until things calm back down.
Many shippers have indeed delayed or cancelled shipments this week. However, it is likely that not all of the trucks that are now stuck in the border delays are carrying what might be considered essential products.
Bradley is also asking that shippers and carriers need to jointly agree to some reasonable compensation for drivers that are stuck in the extensive border delays.
Refusal of loads, or performance charges/fees for shipments that miss just-in-time delivery windows should be waived and tolerance shown.
The OTA says it is working with federal and provincial authorities on plans to ensure shipments of essential products, food, etc. receive priority attention. The association is also suggesting some tolerance in the enforcement of driver hours of service regulations during this time.
“We all need to act responsibly and compassionately,” said Bradley.
Some 65% of Canada’s trade with the US crosses at the Ontario border points at Windsor, Sarnia, Fort Erie and Niagara. On a typical day, a truck crosses the Canada US border once every 2 seconds.
Meanwhile, the British Columbia Trucking Association says that wait times at the border have greatly improved over the last day or so. “On Tuesday evening the waits were up to eight hours, but they’re now about 45 minutes, (based on the last indication from a BCTA member). U.S. Customs has greatly improved staffing, particularly overnight, to clear the backlog,” the BCTA’s Louise Yako told CT&L.