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High diesel prices 'tough' and 'challenging' for trucking industry

Diesel prices continue fluctuating across Nova Scotia, where it's currently sitting above $2 per litre in the province
(stock photo)

High diesel prices are creating a tough and challenging situation for the trucking industry, according to an Atlantic Canadian association.

"The challenge, right now, is the spikes that we're seeing in a very short period," Jean-Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, said. "For most companies, you've got to manage your cash flow. When you see these hikes within a span of five days like we've seen a few weeks ago, that's when it gets really difficult to manage."

In Nova Scotia, gasoline prices saw a slight dip last week, dropping 5.5 cents to 167.3 a litre.

But diesel prices in the province didn't change, remaining at 205.6 a litre.

Picard told The Todd Veinotte Show that it becomes tricky for truckers when the cost of diesel remains high or rises.

While truckers will still operate and carry loads to their destinations, Picard said they won't get paid for their deliveries for a month or longer. That means truckers must be able to carry those higher costs for that time period.

He said a fuel surcharge typically protects the industry and its customers since diesel prices usually change on a weekly basis.

But he said the issue is that the industry is always a week behind. That doesn't help when there are multiple hikes in one week, which has recently been the case.

"You can't really adjust your prices for your customers until next week," Picard said. "Therefore, you've got to absorb all those increases that are happening throughout the week.

"If you're not financially solid, it can be really painful; it can really hurt the small companies."

Moreover, he said it doesn't help that the supply chain's capacity has been tight over the past year.

"It's been tough lately. You've got to expect something to be passed onto consumers at some point, especially if it lasts," Picard said. "I haven't seen a summer where fuel prices were low in a long time. This is probably going to be like this for a while."

Chris Stoodley

About the Author: Chris Stoodley

Chris was born and raised in Halifax. After graduating from the journalism program at King's, he started as CityNews Halifax's weekend editor.
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