MCC News

Response to Grey Hound Canada – Shut Down

2021-05-13

“Today’s announcement that Greyhound Canada is ending operations is a major blow to Canada’s ability to connect people and communities. It highlights the need for specific government support for private motor coach providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic” stated Vince Accardi, President of Motor Coach Canada and the Ontario Motor Coach Association

Countries around the world are safeguarding their ability to connect residence and communities by providing specific economic relief for transportation service providers. Last week the U.S. Department of Treasury release the details of their Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Grant Program. The $2 billion program will provide grants to eligible motorcoach companies and other transportation service providers that have experienced annual revenue losses of 25 percent or more as result of COVID-19.

“Our members link smaller communities and big cities; they offer an affordable and convenient mode of travel for everyone from essential workers to students. They depend on ridership for revenues and often find themselves competing with government subsidized services. It will be vital to Canadians to ensure that they have transportation options” continued Accardi

Motor Coach Canada and the Ontario Motor Coach Association will continue to work with the federal and provincial government to secure support for private motor coach operators.

-END-

Motor Coach Canada (MCC) is a national association representing motor coach and tour operators in Canada. MCC is the national association representing the interests of private motor coach operators and bus operators supplying scheduled, charter, transit, and tour services.

Ontario Motor Coach Association (OMCA) represents motor coach operators and tour operators providing scheduled service, chartered bus service and organized tours throughout Ontario, and across provincial and international borders.

Inquiries: info@omca.com

Business Pulse Survey – Due May 14th

MCC has released a new survey to get a pulse on the motor coach industry and better serve and support our members. Survey responses will be aggregated, and all individual and company information will remain confidential.

The aggregated results of this survey will help the association provide compelling fact-based statements when lobbying for the needs of the industry. We appreciate your time and effort as we ask you to share as much information as possible about your company and operations.

This survey will ask details about your activity, income and expenses pre-pandemic and today. To save time, please have this information ready when beginning the survey. You will receive a confirmation after submitting the survey which will include a copy of your answers. If you have any information to add/change after you’ve submitted your answers, please send them to info@motorcoachcanada.com.

This survey is to be completed by motor coach operators and the deadline to submit your response is Friday, May 14th.

Week Three – A Message from the MCC President

Thank you for your membership and support of MCC.  

This week, I was pleased to confirm MCC’s participation on the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s Tourism Recovery Committee. This strategic advisory committee is informed by a dedicated group of industry leaders representing all sectors of the tourism economy and chaired by TIAC’s Board Chair. Members include representatives from; destinations, attractions, festivals and events, conventions, hotels, tour operators, airports, airlines and now motor coach and group travel.

Recently, Dr. Tam released a report that noted when 75% of adult Canadians have received their first vaccine, and 20% have received both shots, restrictions can be eased without the fear of overwhelming our healthcare system. This week, the Federal government confirmed that Canada will align policy on ‘vaccine passports’ with international allies. While both announcements give reason for us to be cautiously optimistic, we know that many communities are still dealing with increasing case counts and limited access to vaccines. These factors do increase the uncertainty over travel resuming for the summer season. However, we can all play a part in reaching the 75% marker, so please roll up your sleeves and encourage your friends, coworkers and families to do the same.

MCC’s dedicated team continues to advocate on behalf of our members. We are here to support your businesses and to support the restart of the travel economy. Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing a few surveys to get a pulse on what is working and where we will need to focus to support our members. Please take the time to fill these surveys in, the data is vital in our advocacy efforts.

For quick daily updates, please remember to connect with us on Twitter. If you are not a member and wish to learn more about the benefits of joining MCC, please contact us.

Take care and stay well.
Vince Accardi

Motor Coach Canada is Hiring a Safety and Regulatory Affairs Strategist

MCC/OMCA is looking to fill the position of Safety and Regulatory Affairs Strategist as a contractor or as a full-time employee.

POSITION OVERVIEW

The Safety and Regulatory Affairs Strategist directs, manages, and where possible, provides subject matter expertise and interpretation on Ontario and Canadian safety and Operations regulatory activities and services provided by the OMCA/MCC to all members and associated stakeholders. This position assists OMCA / MCC members to meet regulatory compliance while mitigating impacts to Operations.

The Safety and Regulatory Affairs Strategist represents and promotes the interests of the OMCA/MCC before all levels of government, to other industries and to the public at large, in line with OMCA/MCC’s policy directions and strategies.



Interested organizations and candidates are invited to submit their proposal /resume in confidence by May 13th, 2021 to info@omca.com with a covering letter describing their interest and suitability for the position and compensation expectation.

WEEK TWO – A MESSAGE FROM THE MCC PRESIDENT

I’d like to start with a big thank you to all the members who continue to welcome me to the association, so kindly. In my second week at MCC, I continue to prioritize connecting with members, partners, and government officials. In short, this has made for very busy days learning about the priorities of our members, and industry.

We have confirmed our association’s participation in the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses. This advocacy coalition is comprised of businesses and associations in the tourism, travel, hospitality, arts, festivals, and business events sectors, who have been the first impacted by Covid-19 and will be the last to recover. The coalition continues to focus on Federal business support programs and access to liquidity.

As I get settled into MCC, I will continue to ensure MCC’s members stories are shared with government officials and our partner associations. Our team is working hard to support our members and we will continue to advocate on your behalf.

Thank you for supporting MCC!
Vince Accardi

A Message from the MCC President

From: Vince Accardi, President, MCC

It’s the start of my second week with MCC and I’d like to start with a big thank you to all the members and partners who have welcomed me to the association. Your kind words of encouragement have been appreciated. I’d also like to thank the team for keeping the association moving forward during our leadership transition. 

Last week started with the tabling of the federal budget. The budget did include extension of businesses support programs like the CEWS, CERS, and Lockdown Support which are available to businesses that have suffered a loss of revenue due to the pandemic. It also included new Canada Recovery Hiring Program which employers eligible for CEWS would generally be eligible for this hiring subsidy. And although the budget did not specifically address the financial asks of the motor coach industry, it does lay the groundwork for supporting the tourism sector’s recovery, totaling $1 billion over three years.  This includes $500 million Tourism Relief Fund that will be administered by the Regional Development Agencies to support investments by local tourism businesses in adapting to the pandemic and investments in festivals, attractions, sports, and tourism marketing,  

We have much work ahead of us and we won’t stop advocating for you. I look forward to leading the association into recovery and to serving you, our members!

Take care and thank you for your support,
Vince Accardi

2021 Federal Budget Analysis

Below is an analysis of how the 2021 Budget will affect MCC members

The much-anticipated Federal Budget was announced April 19th and while the full budget document is over 700 pages, we want to bring focus to the good-news items for our members. 

The items that will support most of our members are the supports for businesses, like CEWS, CERS, and Lockdown Support which are available to businesses that have suffered a loss of revenue due to the pandemic.  

Wage Subsidy Extension 

  • Set to expire in June of this year, the budget proposes that the CEWS program be further extended to September 25th, 2021.  
  • It also proposes to gradually decrease the subsidy rate, beginning July 4, 2021, in order to ensure an orderly phase-out of the program as vaccinations are completed and the economy reopens. 
  • The government will seek the legislative authority to have the ability to further extend the wage subsidy program through regulations until November 20, 2021, should the economic and public health situation require it beyond September 2021. 

Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support Extension 

  • The CERS program, payable directly to tenants, and the Lockdown Support for businesses significantly affected by forced closures are both set to expire in June 2021. The Budget proposes to extend the rent subsidy and Lockdown Support until September 25, 2021.  
  • It also proposes to gradually decrease the rate of the rent subsidy, beginning July 4, 2021, in order to ensure an orderly phase-out of this program as vaccinations are completed and the economy reopens. 
  • The government will seek the legislative authority to have the ability to extend further the program through regulations until November 20, 2021, should the economic and public health situation require further support beyond September 2021. 

Introducing a new Canada Recovery Hiring Program 

  • The new $595 million Canada Recovery Hiring Program will make it easier for businesses to hire back laid-off workers or to bring on new ones by providing eligible employers with a subsidy of up to 50 percent on the incremental remuneration paid to eligible employees between June 6, 2021, and November 20, 2021.  
  • Employers eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would generally be eligible for the hiring subsidy, however, an eligible employer would be permitted to claim either the hiring subsidy or the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for a particular qualifying period, but not both. 
     

Although the budget did not specifically address the financial asks of the motor coach industry, it does lay the groundwork for supporting the tourism sector’s recovery. The recovery of festivals, attractions, sports, agriculture, and tourism as a whole will, of course, increase demand for motor coach tourism.  

The 2021 Budget proposes supports that total to $1 billion over three years, which includes: 

  • Major Festivals 
    • $200 million through the regional development agencies will support major festivals. This would ensure they can continue to celebrate our artistic excellence and unique character. 
       
  • Community Festivals and Events
    • $200 million through Canadian Heritage will support local festivals, community cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sports events, and more. 
       
  • Helping Visitors Discover Canada  
    • $100 million will go to Destination Canada for marketing campaigns to help Canadians and other visitors discover and explore the country. 
       
  • Tourism Relief Fund 
    • $500 million Tourism Relief Fund will be administered by the regional development agencies to support investments by local tourism businesses in adapting to the pandemic. 
       

 
Other tourism-related funding includes: 

  • Indigenous Tourism
    • $2.4 million will go to the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada to help the Indigenous tourism industry rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  
    • This will not only help our indigenous destination members but it will help keep travel close to home and on our local highways.  
       
  • Performing Arts and Community Events 
    • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $49.6 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Canadian Heritage for the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program ($14 million over two years, starting in 2022-23), the Canada Arts Presentation Fund ($16 million over two years, starting in 2022-23), and the Celebration and Commemoration Program ($19.6 million over three years, starting in 2021-22). 
       
  • Agriculture 
    • $101 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, to implement a program for the wine sector that will support wineries in adapting to ongoing and emerging challenges, in line with Canada’s trade obligations. The government will continue to be there for Canada’s domestic wine industry and the jobs it supports. 
    • This support will help local wineries prepare for the influx of winery tours when restrictions are eventually lifted.  
       
  • Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Sectors  
    • $300 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Canadian Heritage to establish a Recovery Fund for Heritage, Arts, Culture, Heritage, and Sport Sectors  
       
  • Supporting Safe Air Travel 
     
  • Continuing to Protect Air Travellers 
     

Other important budget areas that may affect our members, directly or indirectly, include: 

  • Motor Vehicle Safety Act 
    • The budget also commits funding for Transport Canada to continue core motor vehicle safety oversight activities in 2022 and beyond, which include monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, enforcing its regulations, and developing new regulations to modernize safety oversight.  
    • MCC will be investigating further into how that affects the motor coach industry.  
       
  • Recovery Support for Youth Sports  
    • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $80 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Canadian Heritage to remove barriers to participation in sports programming and to help community organizations kick-start local organized sports that are accessible to all. 
    • A boost for youth sports teams and tournaments will mean an increased demand for sports team transportation and travel.  
       
  • Supporting Jobs and Growth in All Communities
    • $700 million over three years for the regional development agencies to support business financing. This would position local economies for long-term growth by transitioning to a green economy, fostering an inclusive recovery, enhancing competitiveness, and creating jobs in every corner of the country.
    • The federal government will work to make FedNor a standalone regional development agency and strengthen the economic development of Northern Ontario.
       
  • Sectoral Workforce Solutions
    • ​Working primarily with sector associations and employers, the new $960 million Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program (budgeted over three years) is introduced to help design and deliver training that is relevant to the needs of businesses, especially small- and medium-sized businesses, and their employees. This funding would also help businesses recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
    • MCC will stay tuned to the developments of this program and hopes to use the Sectoral Workforce Solutions program to help support our members. 
       

MCC will continue to monitor the unfolding of this budget and will continue to work diligently at helping our members access the support that they need. We will also be working with Provincial and Federal governments and our partners on a framework for opening borders.  

If you have any questions, concerns, or require clarification on anything included in the budget – please reach out to info@motorcoachcanada.com and we will gladly assist you.   See the full budget here.

What Motor Coach Operators Should Know About the Canadian ELD Requirements

By Stevie McKeeman
March 31st, 2021
Revised April 17, 2021

The commercial motor vehicle industry is facing new requirements for the way they log their driver’s daily hours of service. An upcoming federal mandate will require all federally regulated trucking and busing companies to use an Electronic Logging Device in their vehicles.  An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) communicates with the engine of the vehicle and automatically records a driver’s driving time and facilitates the recording of the driver’s record of duty status. This article contains everything a motor coach operator may need to know, based on the information available, regarding the upcoming mandate and how to purchase the best ELDs for your company.

HOW DOES THE UPCOMING ELD MANDATE AFFECT ME?

As of June 12th, 2021, drivers working for federally regulated carriers must record their daily hours of service using an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) instead of handwritten in a paper logbook. This mandate is intended to record more accurate hours of service for commercial drivers, thus reducing the risk of drowsiness and fatigue related incidents. A similar mandate was introduced in the United States in 2017, however their criteria differ slightly from Canada’s which means that a compliant ELD in the USA will not necessarily be compliant in Canada. This mandate does not change the Hours of Service requirements set out in the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations but rather the method of recording the information required under these regulations. The conditions that exempt a driver from recording a daily log under these regulations still applies when using an ELD. For example, the federal hours of service (HOS) regulations exempts school buses and other commercial vehicles from requiring an ELD when they are operating locally (under the 160-km radius exemption).

Currently, the only published ELD mandate relates to federally regulated carriers and each province is still deciding how they want to proceed with their provincially regulated carriers. Furthermore, most provinces have not yet announced how they intend to enforce the federal ELD mandate.  Under the federal transportation rules, a federally regulated carrier would be a company that has at least one commercial vehicle that crosses provincial boundaries.  At that point, the carrier’s entire fleet would fall under the federal HOS rules. This means that a federally regulated carrier with a bus operating solely within one province would require an ELD if it did not meet one of the exemptions listed below.

Under the federal HOS rules, the primary ELD exemptions that would apply to the bus industry are:

  1. A bus manufactured before model year 2000
  2. A bus operating within the 160 km radius daily log exemption (stays within a 160 km radius of where the bus starts/ends the day and returns to the same location)
  3. A bus rented for no more than 30 days

HOW DO I KNOW IF AN ELD IS COMPLIANT WITH THIS MANDATE?

Transport Canada brought in the Standard Council of Canada (SCC), Canada’s national accreditation body, to develop and implement the accreditation scheme for electronic logging device certification bodies. The process takes 7 to 9 months for a certification body to become accredited by SCC, after proving that they meet ISO 17065 testing standards, have adequate knowledge of the device requirements, and have sufficient methodology to test the electronic logging devices. For a motor coach operator to be compliant with this mandate, they must use a device that has been listed as certified by one of the approved certification bodies on the Transport Canada (TC) website.

FP Innovations is currently the only accredited certification body, but 2 more will be accredited soon.

To become certified, an ELD manufacturer must sign an agreement with one of TC’s accredited certification bodies and submit multiple units of their device for testing. So far, at least 15 ELD manufacturers have submitted applications to FP Innovations to be certified, however none have yet to complete the certification process which is said to take between 4-6 weeks from the day the physical devices are received.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article, there are still no Electronic Logging Devices certified for use in Canada and listed on Transport Canada’s website.

HOW CAN I COMPLY WITH THE MANDATE IF THERE ARE NO APPROVED DEVICES?

Transport Canada has recognized the difficulty that carriers face when trying to ensure that their ELDs are compliant with this new mandate and while the transportation ministry have not agreed to delay the mandate, the Canadian Transportation Agency have recommended a progressive enforcement schedule start with a full year of penalty-free, education focused enforcement.

The best approach for a motor coach operator to take is to obtain assurances from your current or potential ELD provider that they are in the certification process for this mandate. While it is difficult for a provider to predict how long it will take to become certified and how many modifications will be needed to get there, it is important to gauge their commitment to the process when deciding where to spend your valuable dollars in the ELD market. 

BESIDES COMPLYING WITH THE MANDATE, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO HAVING ELDS?

A valuable benefit of having electronic logs is that the information is sent to company headquarters in real time. Based on feedback from OMCA members that have been using ELDs for years, there are countless benefits to using ELDs for your entire fleet. Brian Denny of Denny Bus Lines raves about the convenience that comes with having ELDs on his entire charter fleet. On top of being a time saver through eliminating the need for data entry, Denny’s drivers also use the ELDs for vehicle inspection reports which prevent them from getting lost in transit and lets the shop knows ahead of time what repairs or maintenance might be required.

Caroline Ravazzolo with Great Canadian Coaches also appreciates the time-saving benefits of not having to review handwritten logs for accuracy and says, “We also use [the ELDs] for DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports) and going electronic reduced admin so greatly that we were able to eliminate one whole position from the company,” noting the cost saving benefits of the electronic logs as well.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN AN ELD?

Shawn Geary of McCoy Bus Lines has had ELDs on his entire charter fleet since 2012 and had to change suppliers in 2018 to be compliant with the U.S. ELD regulations. If your company has vehicles that travel into the U.S., you will want to ensure that your equipment will be compliant on both sides of the border. Geary notes that many ELD providers gear their technology to the trucking industry and encourages motor coach operators to find a provider that understands the unique needs of passenger carrier motor vehicles.

Saucon Technologies’ Mike Deeb tells OMCA that his company found a niche in the bus market right after 9/11 and states that 99.5% of their current business is with motor coaches in North America. When asked what the different ELD requirements are for passenger vehicles and freight vehicles, Deeb says that the technical differences are not as prevalent in Canada as they are in the U.S. because the U.S. have two completely different sets of rules.

Dan DePalma of Streamline Transportation Technologies, a 100-year-old trucking company that purpose built a solution in the early 2000’s and found such success that they began selling their logging devices to other companies, also acknowledges the unique requirements of the ELDs in the busing industry. DePalma describes how drivers must be able to log different activities when the vehicle is stopped, whether it is for a break, an inspection or otherwise, to accurately keep track on on-duty and off-duty times. Then, when the vehicle is in motion, the ELD will automatically track the driving time.

Coach Operators and ELD providers alike are cognizant that implementing ELDs into any fleet is a major monetary investment, from the tangible devices to the monthly service fees, and urge every operator to take their time deciding on the perfect ELD provider for them.  Consider what your operations typically look like – not just what they look like during the pandemic. Will you be making trips to the United States? What else will you want to use the logging devices for? How much money will each device save you in time and manpower? What kind of training does the supplier offer for your admin staff and drivers?

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BE AWARE OF WHEN PURCHASING ELDS?

In Dan DePalma’s experience, drivers tend to train each other as they get used to the new devices and advises that “you want a tool that very easy-to-use for the drivers. If the drivers can use it, then the rest is solvable. If the drivers struggle with it or do not like it, it’s a challenge.” He also notes that you will want a tool that is more than just a log, as it is a good opportunity to get technology in your business. “While you’re spending money, it doesn’t have to be a cost.” DePalma explains “It can help the business: Can we drive savings in your fleet with respect to how you control variable costs, how you manage fuel, how you manage trip times, how you bid for jobs with your customers because you have more accurate information on the cost and the times needed?”

Shawn Geary warns “It’s a significant expense. You want to go with a company that has a proven track record. If they are not on the list in Canada, they should at least be on the list in the US as being approved.” Brian Denny’s advice is to implement the ELDs on all your vehicles because trying to manage the electronic logs and paper logs is quite frustrating. Plus, knowing where all your vehicles are has great benefits, such as easily identifying to nearest bus to help transport passengers from a stalled vehicle.

With the looming deadline to comply with the Canadian ELD mandate, be sure that your ELD provider will have the inventory to service your fleet in a timely manner. When ELD’s became mandatory in the United States, there were some unfortunate operators that were not compliant by the deadline because their ELD provider could not keep up with the demand. Mike Deeb advises operators to look at the longevity of the ELD provider as well. When the U.S. regulations took effect, Deeb noticed a lot of bandwagon jumpers were trying to make quick cash off of the mandatory purchases but were ill-experienced and failed to deliver quality products and services.

WHERE TO START

  1. Assess the needs for your fleet and what benefits you would like to see from your electronic devices.
  2. Do your research into the companies that offer this equipment and understand how their devices will help you meet the mandatory requirements.
  3. Ask your industry colleagues about their experience with ELDs. Talk to operators that have already implemented ELDs and pick their brains.
  4. Get assurances that the device you are looking to purchase will, as soon as possible, be certified under Transport Canada’s requirements.
  5. Be mindful of the impact on your business. While most recommend putting ELDs on your entire fleet for optimal benefits, given the lack of operations during the pandemic, consider purchasing only what is necessary for your current operations and adding more as your business increases post-pandemic.

Hopefully, this article has provided valuable information for motor coach operators in the market for electronic logging devices and served as an informative update on the upcoming mandate. Motor Coach Canada will continue to monitor for details on the progressive enforcement schedule and will update members when that information becomes available. If members have any further inquiries, please contact the association.

MCC Has A New President

MCC’s Chairman, Marc Laplante, is pleased to announce that we have officially chosen a new leader for our association: Vince Accardi. Vince is coming from the Tourism Industry of Canada (TIAC) where he served as the Acting CEO since November, the Vice President since 2019 and the Director of Policy and Stakeholder relations prior to that. With Vince’s government relations experience coupled with more than 20 years in the tourism industry, we are confident that he will be a strong player in supporting and growing the motor coach travel and tourism sector. Vince’s official start date is April 19th, 2021 and he is excited to introduce himself to the association and all of its wonderful members!