DIEPPE, N.B. – The inability to hire temporary foreign workers will result in trucks being parked across Atlantic Canada.
By altering the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and making it both more expensive and more difficult to import labour, the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) believes the federal government is crippling the trucking industry.
The association says under the new, stricter rules, “carriers won’t be able to move the goods; they will literally have to park trucks and refuse contracts.”
In particular, the APTA singles out the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fee—which is increasing from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer—as being particularly harmful to trucking companies. It also feels the requirements for employers to provide more detailed Labour Market Information and the shorter duration of work permits will make it harder to trucking companies in Atlantic Canada to acquire and retain the employees they need in order to function.
“Our members are extremely concerned about this situation. The program worked well for our industry and now they have no idea where and how they will find drivers to move the goods of their customers. Every company hauling commercial goods today is looking for drivers; it is a well-documented fact that the industry has a shortage of drivers. This has just amplified the situation and it will change the landscape of our industry in Atlantic Canada,” said APTA executive director Jean-Marc Picard.
“The Conference Board of Canada released a document in 2013 highlighting the driver shortage that we are facing today as well as what to expect in 2020. Up to 33,000 drivers will be needed for our industry by 2020 and you can certainly review that number now because of the Temporary Foreign Program being almost inaccessible.”
According to Picard, Atlantic Canadian trucking companies don’t want to rely on imported labour, but businesses have no choice but to look outside the country for drivers.
“The trucking industry would prefer hiring qualified Canadians as truck drivers; it is not in any trucking company’s business plan to grow their businesses using TFWs. It is expensive and lots of barriers exist, so companies that use the program only do so when they have exhausted their ability to attract qualified Canadians.”
“Efforts are being taken across Canada to attract drivers. In Atlantic Canada, we are constantly promoting the industry, removing barriers, making funding accessible etc., but also the truck driver occupation needs to be recognized as a skilled trade. We are at a critical point in time for our industry because the average age of drivers is increasing every year.”
Although its focus isn’t on drivers but on the executive-level, the Trucking Human Resources Sector Council Atlantic is operating one program that is receiving some attention and funding.
Kellie Leitch, the federal minister of labour and minister of status of women, recently announced financial support for four projects designed to support women in Atlantic Canada. This includes $242,721 for a three-year project with the goal of increasing the recruitment and advancement of women in leadership positions in the region’s trucking industry.