Ontario Trucking Association

Ontario Trucking Association

March 02, 2007 15:43 ET

Ontario Government Calls on Ottawa to Take Action on Diesel Fuel Shortage

Ontario Trucking Association welcomes intervention by Province's Energy Minister and Liberal MP, McTeague

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 2, 2007) - The Ontario Trucking Association is hoping that the Government of Canada will heed the call from Ontario's Minister of Energy, Dwight Duncan, for urgent action to relieve the current shortage of truck diesel fuel by allowing truckers to use a brand of diesel fuel which the industry used for more than a decade until this past October and is still used in off-road applications.

In a letter to federal environment minister, John Baird, Duncan states that "Ontario's economy is heavily dependent on trucking, and the trucking industry is solely dependent on diesel fuel." He went on to say that temporarily allowing the trucking industry to use this fuel "would significantly reduce the negative impact on the Ontario economy arising from the current situation." Duncan is in Victoria today, along with federal natural resources minister, Gary Lunn, at a meeting of the country's energy ministers, and is expected to drive home Ontario's concerns.

Last night, Dan McTeague, Liberal Member of Parliament for Pickering-Scarborough East, wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, adding his support to OTA's request "given the importance of surface transportation to the Canadian economy, and in recognizing the temporary nature attached to the request."

David Bradley, president of the trucking association says he welcomes the support of the provincial government and federal MP's like Dan McTeague. "Ontario gets it, members of parliament get it, now we need support from the Government of Canada," he said.

Bradley says the shortage of truck diesel has worsened in the last 48 hours with trucking companies being cut off from deliveries to their underground storage tanks, with retail pumps being closed throughout the province and fuel being rationed to a quarter of a tank.

"There are millions of litres of fuel that is perfectly suitable to use by trucks sitting in reserve, that we need temporary access to, but it's not happening," says Bradley. "It's frustrating when you consider the risk to the economy."

The problem, according to Bradley, appears to be that the federal government is to use his words "in a regulatory straight-jacket." The government says it does not have the authority to suspend the current regulation governing truck diesel fuel standards, even on a temporary basis. That would require a regulatory change which under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act would take a minimum of 60 days to pass. Another way would be for the government to introduce legislation as it did recently to end the CN Rail strike. However, given that MP's started their March break today, that is not likely to happen. Or, the federal government could take a soft approach to enforcing the regulation for a short period of time until the fuel supply situation stabilizes, and assure the oil companies they would not be prosecuted for selling the off-road fuel to the truckers.

Bradley says, "there must be a way; it's an intolerable situation we are facing with trucks roaming around looking to find fuel to put in their tanks," he says. "It is quite incredible that an industry the size of the oil producers could allow this situation to occur. It is equally bizarre that in post-9/11 world, after the supposed emergency planning of the past six years, that the economy should be exposed to such a risk."

"It's amazing how resilient the trucking industry has been under very trying circumstances. We all hope we have hit bottom and that for everyone's sake fuel inventories will improve soon. But right now I would have to say that is just wishful thinking because we have seen nothing so far that would suggest next week won't be as bad as this week has been or worse."

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Ontario Trucking Association
    Doug Switzer
    Manager of Government Relations
    (416) 249-7401 Ext 238
    or
    Ontario Trucking Association
    Rebecka Torn
    Manager of Communications
    (416) 249-7401 x 224
    Website: www.ontruck.org