An NDP member of Ontario’s provincial legislature has introduced a broad-reaching motion that calls on steps to help owner-operators with surging insurance costs and an underlying driver shortage.
“[Premier] Doug Ford needs to act now to help truckers, some of who are paying over $15,000 a year in insurance costs, and are unable to secure new drivers because of insurance policies that favor the largest truck corporations in the province,” said NDP MPP Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk-James Bay). “How much more does Doug Ford think that small trucking businesses can take?”
Bourgouin’s motion would require fleets to provide drivers with a letter of experience on request, to review existing underwriting rules and risk classifications that affect owner-operators, and re-evaluate truck driver training standards and costs.
Ontario was the first province to introduce mandatory entry-level training programs, which require 103.5 hours of core training, and another 8.5 hours of training for an air brake endorsement, before testing for a Class A/Z licence.
Support from truckers
In a related press release, several individual truck operators showed their support for the proposed measures.
“While I have an extensive experience driving roll-off trucks, it was disheartening to remain unemployed because I was unable to obtain a letter of experience. This cost me years of income, worrying and suffering. I had even thought of leaving the province to find employment elsewhere,” said Angela Price, a truck driver based in Kawartha Lakes, Ont.
“For years I was unable to hire my 30-year-old son to join my small portable storage in Northern Ontario due to existing arbitrary underwriting rules and cost-prohibitive insurance premiums that largely affect small businesses like mine,” said Peter Larocque of JPL Storage in Haleybury, Ont.
“In 2020, had I opted to insure my son in my small family trucking business, our insurance premium would have increased by 250%. It simply doesn’t make any sense.”
LaRocque, whose portable storage business uses two trucks to deliver containers to driveways and construction sites, has been campaigning to change the rules since 2018.
He isn’t the only owner-operator to complain about rising insurance costs..
“I have been in the trucking industry since 1987 and I have never seen anything like this. I have an impeccable record yet, in 2018, the cost to insure my truck increased by 132%. To add insult to injury, I cannot afford employing my son. While he completed the costly mandatory entry-level training (MELT), I would have to pay a $14,000 to $30,000 premium every year to insure him,” said Claude Laflamme, an owner-operator in Hearst, Ont.