The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is calling on the federal government to delay plans to introduce 10 paid sick days for federally regulated truckers, noting the rules would strain already-fragile supply chains.
Bill C-3 is scheduled to introduce the sick days for all federally regulated employees on Dec. 1, but CTA wants the government to delay that by one year and consider phasing in five sick days the following year, with another five days to be added in the year after that.
“As CTA has repeatedly communicated to the Government of Canada, this plan could effectively equate to 300,000 trucks being shut down for an additional 10 days each, on an unplanned basis next year,” CTA president Stephen Laskowski said in a press release.
“The impact this could have on just-in-time shipping, overall capacity, seasonal availability, and service reliability for customers and Canadians is expected to be severe.”
Estimates from CTA suggest the guaranteed sick leave would sacrifice 5-10% of trucking capacity in 2023, adding to the 10-15% of drivers that it says left the trucking industry because of cross-border vaccination requirements and other mandates.
Canada and the U.S. continue to require border-crossing truck drivers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Carrier profits, meanwhile, could drop 13-57% depending on the number of days used by employees, according to CTA modelling.
“The main cost for trucking companies of these lost 10 days is not necessarily the salary paid to the worker — it’s the truck that must sit unexpectedly for days and the logistical chaos it causes the trucking company scrambling to move it. This chain reaction and the associated consequences will also inevitably flow through to the companies relying on the delivery, be it raw materials, manufacturing inputs, or finished products destined for store shelves,” Laskowski said.
The alliance also warns the sick days would exacerbate driver shortages and push inflation higher. But it says some added flexibility in the rollout would help the trucking industry ease backlogs in the interim.
Bill C-3’s 10 paid sick days initially reflected the government’s policy regarding 10-day quarantine and isolation periods linked to Covid-19, CTA says. But recommended quarantine timelines have changed as the spread and severity of Covid-19 have eased.
Most workers take fewer than five sick days per year, CTA adds.
Driver Inc. concerns
Alternative options proposed by Canada’s largest trucking association include allowing companies to use internal benefits packages and plans to compensate workers for sick days.
Building on its ongoing concerns about Driver Inc. companies that misclassify employees as independent workers, CTA noted that workers forced into the underground economy are not covered by government initiatives like this.
“While widespread Driver Inc. related noncompliance has been recognized in our sector by ESDC [Employment and Social Development Canada], they, nor any other federal department responsible for enforcing standards related to labor and taxes, have yet to bring it under control,” Laskowski said.
“It seems nearly unconscionable, then, that ESDC could bring this into effect when it is widely known that one of the primary foreseen consequences will be to drive even more companies and drivers into the underground economy.”
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