The Manitoba Trucking Association was formed in 1932, to address the concerns of both the fledgling industry and the consuming public, when a group of truck transport professionals met at a Winnipeg hotel to organize for self-protection against regulation. Over the years, the stance changed to that of cooperating with regulation that was good for the provincial trucking industry, and by the late 1990’s, the cycle of regulation had gone almost full circle to a deregulated state bolstered by safety codes. Since 1929, the Association has served to organize the Manitoba trucking industry into a professional trade group who control their own industry, and it has been at the forefront of Manitoba’s trucking industry since the early 1930’s. Since then, the Manitoba trucking industry has become a powerful economic force reaching into every aspect of life. Everything we wear, use or consume – necessity or luxury – makes part of the long journey from raw material to end product by truck.
Predecessors to the Manitoba Trucking Association include the Manitoba Truck and Bus Owners Association (1929-36) and the Manitoba Automotive Transportation Association (1936-53). It is interesting to note that the stated aims of the Manitoba Truck and Bus Owners Association were to:
- encourage the construction and maintenance of good roads and streets;
- foster motor truck and bus transportation;
- collect and disseminate information of interest;
- maintain the rights and privileges of those who use motor trucks and buses;
- cooperate with the provincial authorities in the handling of traffic.
In those early days, trucking was a free-for-all: anyone with a truck could go into business and charge whatever the traffic would bear, and no bonds or insurance were needed. The more responsible carriers, led by William R. Noble, agreed there had to be a better way, and formed the (then) Manitoba Automotive Transport Association, both to protect their interests and to press for progressive legislation. Concerns of the time were insurance protection for both shippers and carriers, and road and safety conditions.
In the Depression years, the trucking industry was low-key and low-budget. Long distance travel meant Winnipeg to Saskatoon, and a fair-sized company might have as many as six trucks. 26-foot trailers and GVWs of 32,000 pounds were standard. Issues such as safety, road maintenance, subsidies, service, regulation and railways were the focus of MTA meetings.
As the industry became more complicated and sophisticated, it became clear that a broader body of industry leaders was needed, and in January 1937, in Winnipeg, the Canadian Trucking Association was born.
With World War II came unprecedented demands for transportation, and the realization that trucking was indispensable to the economic growth of Canada. The MTA grew stronger, with the recognition that “in an era of increasing governmental regulation and restriction, and with the constant threat of railroad incursion into motor transportation, the Association was, and would continue to be, the bulwark of the independent carriers.”
The twin issues of regulation and government control would not go away. Major public relations and legislative programs were launched to protect the industry from potentially damaging legislated restrictions. The industry wanted to preserve Provincial control, and presented its case so well that, although the federal government had, and still retains, jurisdiction over inter-Provincial and international transportation, it turned actual regulation back to Provincial regulatory boards.
As time passed, sizes, weights and road quality became more significant. By 1950, the MTA was pressing for an increase in maximum GVW to 52,000 pounds. In support of this, and to counter the criticism that trucks were hard on highways, the words of road building pioneer J.L. Macadam were often quoted: “roads must be made to accommodate the traffic, not the traffic regulated to preserve the roads.” In 1953 Manitoba trucks travelled 40 million miles per year – double the figure of just five years before.
In 1958, the Association incorporated to reduce officers’ liability, and also published the first Ship-by-Truck Directory. The Directory is now an indispensable guide for both shippers and transporters. Ongoing local concerns centered around routes and rates, lengths and weights, and items of practical interest – maintenance, bills of lading, bookkeeping, driver selection, highway courtesy and safety.
Meanwhile, the railways began to acquire and build their own trucking divisions. By 1965, the MTA. realized that working with the railways could accomplish more than fighting with them, and the attitude “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” was adopted. The MTA allowed rail trucking organizations to join the Association, to the benefit of all.
The 1967 National Transportation Act defined national objectives and policy, established the Canadian Transport Commission, and accorded full status to highway transport. Though not perfect, it was hailed as a major step in recognizing the importance of the road transportation industry.
In ensuing years, issues centered around rising business costs, air and noise pollution, container traffic, weight restrictions and rising fuel taxes, the rate system as a whole and, of course, the energy crisis.
The introduction of Autopac in 1971 had major impact on the industry, solving some insurance problems and creating a few new ones. Many of these were subsequently ironed out, and the Association has since developed a close working relationship with Manitoba Public Insurance.
By this time, the trucking industry had matured into the well-disciplined, responsible and community-minded entity of today. The industry described itself as “fitting today’s business climate: efficient, lean, and flexible.” The Association grew in strength, and broadened its service level with an excellent group insurance plan, driver training courses, and audiovisual programs.
One significant event was the acquisition of the building at 25 Bunting Street in 1980. The new quarters bear witness to the Association’s financial stability, as well as its commitment to increase programs and services for members.
Today, MTA members can point with pride to a mature and responsible organization, which has developed outstanding safety and driver training programs, a committee structure that serves all areas and aspects of members’ needs, and a strong working relationship with government agencies. The Association stands ready to face whatever challenges the future will bring, and to represent the interests of members of the trucking industry in all aspects of their business.
The Manitoba Trucking Association is a member of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA). The 2000 member, Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is a federation of the provincial trucking associations whose mandate is to give the industry a more effective voice on national/international issues and is the national trucking lobby in Canada. Under a revitalized partnership between the provincial trucking associations and the national association, all members of all provincial trucking associations are automatically members of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. The CTA Board of Directors, which is comprised of carrier members from the provincial trucking associations, is the governing body of the CTA.