Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
OVER the past 11 months, our government has worked very hard to bring stability to this sector and help these hard-working British Columbians provide for their families.
We know that these truckers are an essential part of the workforce that drives our provincial and national economies. Our exporters depend on port truckers to move their containerized forestry, agricultural and fishery products to the waterfront for shipping to overseas customers. Importers rely on port truckers to move consumer and other goods to local and North American markets. In fact, from the food we put on our tables to the many other products we use in our daily lives, we depend on the efforts of the hard-working men and women of B.C.’s port trucking industry.
Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest and most important port with 180 million dollars of goods moving through it every single day. That is why we have fought to improve working conditions for container truckers– because their work is vital to making sure that these goods keep moving.
When the Province signed the 14-point Joint Action Plan to end a month-long labour dispute at the port in March 2014, it committed to doing its part to fulfil all of the actions. Veteran mediators Vince Ready and Corinn Bell were engaged to make recommendations on the implementation of the Plan, and following months of discussions with the container trucking industry, provided a report which has now been acted upon. After months of hard work by everyone involved, the commitments in the Action Plan have been met.
Truckers themselves stated a need for fleet reduction to better balance the fleet with the gateway’s needs. The federal government has, with Port Metro Vancouver, addressed this through reforms to the truck licensing system. Now, with a smaller fleet, there should be more and more consistent levels of work available for licensed truckers. And to make sure that work is fairly compensated, the Province has enacted legislation to create a new, independent Container Trucking Commissioner who will be responsible for overseeing rates and future licensing. Minimum rates are now in place to provide a baseline of compensation for container truckers servicing the port. This will put an end to the uneven playing field which has plagued this sector for the past decade.
The Commissioner will oversee a whistleblower line earlier set up for truckers, and ensure required rates are being paid through an audit and enforcement function. The Commissioner will be informed and supported by an Industry Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from the sector.
Recognizing that not everyone will find a place in the resized fleet, the federal government has committed to a transition program to support impacted owner-operator truckers; and starting this week, the Province is also making available supports to truckers through the WorkBC program.
The port trucking sector, while relatively small, is highly complex and has suffered from instability that has harmed our economy and the truckers and others who work in this industry. That is why we have worked hard to put in place the first important steps to assure long term port stability, including by improving working conditions for these hard-working British Columbians.