A coalition of stakeholders are protesting new rules that they say are putting dump truck owners and operators out of business in the middle of a pandemic.
More than 100 companies, stakeholders and members of the construction industry have banded together to launch the “Don’t Dump on Us” campaign, which is urging the province to recognize the negative impact of expensive retrofits for dump trucks older than 15 years — at a price tag of $20,000-40,000 per vehicle. “After months of protest and outreach, the Minister of Transportation (Caroline Mulroney) has still not met with us to address our concerns,” said campaign spokesperson Sarbjit Kaur on Wednesday.
“The ministry says there’s no viable reason to review the rules, but what viable reason is there to put hard working people out of business — especially during a pandemic?”
Among the coalition’s goals are to highlight that mandatory upgrades to vehicles built from 2011 onwards have SPIF (Safe Productive Infrastructure Friendly) axles that are designed to be road friendly and reduce wear on the vehicle — upgrades which are now redundant according to the new rules. At least 1,000 dump trucks manufactured prior are now deemed noncompliant, under the new rules, says Kaur, who indicated that the coalition is asking for older impacted trucks to be “grandfathered” into the new ruleset for their natural lifespan, similar to other vehicles such as cement trucks and fuel trailers.
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who previously served as Transportation Minister under the previous government, also spoke out to support the coalition’s aims, saying that the agreements and resolutions made related to SPIF-compliant vehicles have seemingly been left by the wayside. “SPIF and the industry. It’s disappointing to see that agreement has not been honoured by Doug Ford, and these job killing requirements have been imposed, in the middle of a pandemic, without collaboration, communication or consultation,” Del Duca said Wednesday.
Compounding matters is the ongoing impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which, coupled with the high price tags for retrofits and new trucks, has priced some drivers out of the market. “Asking drivers to invest tens of thousands of dollars in perfectly good 15- year-old trucks is outrageous,” said Jagroop Singh, the president of the Ontario Aggregate Truckers Association (OATA).
Singh noted that cost of new dump trucks ranges from $220,000-320,000, and that the new rules “came into effect with no announcement or notice.” Brampton, which employs numerous truck drivers at various businesses throughout the city and serves as one of the GTA’s largest transportation hubs, has also called on relief by the province to work towards viable solutions — which may be needed sooner rather than later, as some industry representatives say a busy construction period this spring could result in increased costs and delays if the industry is impacted.
“The dump truck industry is the backbone of the construction industry,” says Alec Cloke, Industry expert and president of United Soils. “Without this small but mighty group of hard workers, materials can’t get transported to job sites and the entire supply chain is interrupted.
Higher costs to build roads, bridges, hospitals and homes will ultimately get passed onto taxpayers and consumers. Minister Mulroney and Premier Ford need to step in and solve this problem once and for all.