Ontario injects $1.3 million into truck driver training for underrepresented groups

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The Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada (WTFC) has received a $1.3-million investment from the government of Ontario to deliver free truck driver training for underrepresented communities in trucking.

During this Bridging the Gaps in Trucking program, nearly 200 hours of training will be provided to 54 women, newcomers (including immigrants from Ukraine), and other underrepresented groups in the industry to obtain AZ or DZ licences and find jobs, Premier Doug Ford announced June 27 in Ayr, Ont.

“Our trucking industry is so important in every sector, every industry in our province. Whether it’s getting materials to construction sites or goods to stores, truck drivers play a critical role in keeping our economy moving and building Ontario. That said, women make up 2% of the truck drivers in our province. That’s just not good enough,” said Ford, adding that Ontario is facing a ‘historic’ labour shortage, including 6,100 job vacancies in the trucking industry.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford poses with Shelley Walker, CEO of the Women's Trucking Federation of Canada
Ontario Premier Doug Ford poses with Shelley Walker, CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada. (Photo: Krystyna Shchedrina)

Amid such circumstances, this initiative is timely in both removing barriers to employment and supporting Ontario’s economy, said Shelley Walker, WTFC’s CEO.

To remove barriers to entry, participants will be eligible to receive up to $1,000 for transportation and childcare support, $300 for equipment, and a $400 weekly allowance.

Funding for underrepresented groups

While Ford points out that this will help get more women into the trucking industry, Walker emphasizes this is non-gender funding for all the underrepresented groups in trucking, including youth at risk.

“We’re working with a Solicitor General’s office; I’m helping those that have been previously incarcerated to find meaningful employment and give them a second chance,” she shared.

The program itself will start with two weeks of soft skills training delivered by WTFC, followed by eight to nine weeks of in-truck training at DriveWise in the GTA, Crossroads Truck Training Academy in Ottawa, Transport Driver Training in Kitchener, and Ontario Truck Driving School in London, Walker said.

Once training is completed, a four-week job placement with a carrier group selected by WTFC will follow.

The province had announced the first cohort of in-person training begins July 1, but Walker shared final details of the program are yet to be finalized.

The funding comes through the Skills Development Fund, the government’s $700-million initiative aimed to support programs that provide job seekers with the training and skills required to get well-paid jobs in Ontario and support the province’s economic growth.

Trucking investments continue

The government will continue investing in the trucking sector, said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development.

“Truckers are the everyday heroes who keep the wheels of our economy turning, and we need to ensure more people have a chance to explore these purpose-driven careers,” he said.

“I was proud to make Ontario the first province in Canada to guarantee truckers the right to access washrooms, and our government will continue to invest in training to ensure everyone in our community gets a shot at earning bigger paycheques for themselves and their families.”

WTFC is currently accepting applications for the training program. Those interested in applying for the Bridging the Gap in Trucking can do so by sending an email programs@wtfc.ca.

WTFC also welcomes emails from carriers willing to help program trainees with job placements.

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Krystyna Shchedrina is a reporter for Today's Trucking. She is a recent honors graduate of the journalism bachelor program at Humber College. Reach Krystyna at: krystyna@newcom.ca

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  • This the same gov that cut all funds for disabled truck drivers almost 4 years ago. The money would have been much better spent on the 200 plus disabled drivers and over 500 homeless hurt and sick former truck and bus drivers in ont including wheelchair van and bus transportation

  • Maybe cracking down on the poor training and quaof drivers coming into the industry now would be a good thing. Stop playing the race card and end driver Inc policies, its nothing more than indentured servitude and the government turns a blind eye to it.

  • No problem with previously incarcerated people, but a criminal record may prevent you from being bonded or crossing the border.

    • Taxpayers and or gov money should not be used to train new drivers to keep wages low for companies that self nsure
      When sick or injured drivers can not get medical care in ont. The Ont trucking companies should put 1 cent per km into a special training and to look after sick or injured truck drivers.