DIEPPE, N.B. – The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) is once again decrying the federal government’s recent changes to the temporary foreign workers’ program (TFW).
Last month, the industry association issued an objection about changes Ottawa made to the way the program was run—in particular, it complained about the increase to the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fee—which jumped from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer.
Now, the APTA is disputing the way drivers are classified. APTA executive director Jean-Marc Picard said, truckers shouldn’t be lumped in with other workers earning minimum wage.
“The government introduced these changes two weeks ago and if you are classified in a high wage occupation, these changes don’t apply in most cases. Unfortunately, the truck driver is categorized as a low wage occupation; therefore we are obliged by all these changes,” he said.
“Even though we pay our long haul drivers above the provincial medians, we are lumped with all types of truck drivers”.
Picard feels that the needs of the industry aren’t understood by the federal government or by the minister of employment and social development.
“Minister [Jason] Kenney obviously doesn’t realize the driver shortage in our industry and hasn’t considered many factors when he made this decision. This will have long-term impacts to our industry in Atlantic Canada and to our overall economy. We understand what he is trying to do, to put Canadians to work but this is extreme and will have a damaging impact for our industry.”
“There are many different types of truck drivers and salaries can fluctuate, but long haul commercial truck drivers average $55,000 and up annually. The government should separate us from the low skill group and recognize that we pay more than the provincial medians.”
“Trucking companies are faced with a huge dilemma now, not only can’t they get applications processed for TFW, they will lose the ones they have which means no driver to drive and a $200,000 truck sitting around in your yard that you have to pay for.”
The APTA condemnation comes on the heels of a Nova Scotia trucking company being cleared of not abiding by the rules regulating the employment of temporary foreign workers. In May, Employment and Social Development Canada suspended Eassons Transport Ltd. of Berwick, N.S. from participating in the program. At the time, the government website justified its action with a notice proclaiming there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that the employer or group of employers provided false, misleading or inaccurate information in the context of the request for that opinion.”
The company denied breaking any rules when it came to the hiring and employment of Jamaican drivers. As of yesterday, the suspension has been lifted and Eassons’ name has been removed from the website.