Driver Inc. business model deprives workers of basic rights: O’Regan

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Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan took to the floor of the House of Commons this week, criticizing the Driver Inc. business model that sees truck drivers misclassified as independent contractors.

“The Driver Inc. model deprives workers of their basic rights,” O’Regan said Monday. “We amended the [Canada Labour Code] by prohibiting the misclassification of workers, and we have been inspecting work sites since then. Where we find people guilty of non-compliance, we will take action through orders, fines and prosecutions.”

“We expect all employers to treat their employees fairly, and those who fail to do so will face the consequences. We committed to protecting workers. We will continue to work with the sector to crack down on Driver Inc.,” he added.

(Photo: istock)

The business model has been a longstanding target of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), which is applauding the comments.

But CTA says national enforcement needs to escalate dramatically across multiple government agencies to protect employee rights and help compliant fleets compete against the scam.

“CTA appreciates the public support by Minister O’Regan to fight Driver Inc. and now looks forward to continuing to work with the department on the rapid deployment of enforcement upon the Driver Inc scam, including the exclusive use of fines as well as prosecutions where applicable,” CTA president Stephen Laskowski said in a press release.

Employment and Social Development Canada previously committed to applying Administrative Monetary Penalties to offending businesses, using new powers that include fines and the ability to name employers which don’t comply with the rules. Other enforcement efforts have included adjustments by Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

A four-point test determines whether someone is actually an independent contractor, covering control over work, the ownership of tools, the chance of profit and the risk of loss. Other signs of misclassified employees include company uniforms, decals on tractors, and whether drivers have to follow company policies and procedures.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • If trucking companies would pay these driver so they could afford to live this would never happen in the system, the big trucking companies been abusing truck drivers for years and not paying enough for drives to afford to feed himself nevermind his family or even get ahead, the CTA been whinnying for 30 plus years but yet the board of directors are eating steak and living in mansions mean while their employees are barely making ends meet. So when the CTA complains it’s because first they can’t get drivers do to not enough money to survive on and then they never get the drive home. Maybe they should look in the mirror before they accuse others of bad business.

    • Perhaps you are unaware of the business model. This is an employer unfairly profiting off of their people by passing on the tax risk and denying basic employment rights to employees. Vacation pay, sick benefits, overtime, stat holidays. The employee is at risk unless of course they are never issued T4A’s and never file income tax. This model is driver abuse at its finest.

      As for your comments on driver pay being the excuse, that’s ridiculous. It’s a free market. If you’re not being paid what you think you deserve, go work somewhere else or start your own business and get your own mansion and steak.

  • Why not look at the bigger issues of driver treatment and those become sick or injured and end up without proper medical supplies or proper treatment and food. The C T A needs to sit down with the ont gov and a non-profit organization

  • Great government, and industry association, optics. Sadly, nothing will change no matter how hard the CTA, and other industry associations, decry the practise, and applaud the government effort. There simply are not enough auditors and inspectors to catch enough of the detractors, nor is there enough inter-service cooperation, to make a difference.
    What the CTA, and other industry associations, should do is develop a guide so the part of the carrier base that is not participating in Driver, Inc. can do so properly. Let’s face it, Driver, Inc. is not going away. Ever.
    The old axiom of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” is aptly applicable here.
    From a driver’s perspective why would you not want to participate in Driver, Inc.? What do you have to lose? Even if your carrier is doing everything correctly on their end, what are the chances you will get caught if you decided not to pay some, or all, of your tax burden? Pretty much zero. Suppose you (as Driver, Inc.) decide not to pay your taxes, but shovel that burden into a bank account instead? You get the interest on your money (what little there is), and after 7 years it’s your money free and clear.
    Even if you pay your taxes, as a corporation you are paying a lot less that if you were an employee.
    What about if you get injured on the job? No, you won’t get WSIB, but if you were prudent you would have bought a WSIB replacement policy. Now you’re covered.
    I’m afraid there is very little deterrent to Driver, Inc., and an MP sitting the House of Commons bemoaning the use of Driver, Inc., while being patted on the back by industry associations, like CTA, does not a deterrent make.

  • It’s about time the government takes action on these fly by nigh so called trucking companies,,, maybe that will help getting the legit companies get more money to haul freight at a cut throat rate.
    P.S . This was written a lot better than the last time you wrote the story Mr. SMITH