Data may suggest growth in Driver Inc. businesses, says OTA

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The number of trucking businesses without employees is surging in Ontario’s Peel and Halton regions – a trend the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) sees as a potential sign of growth in Driver Inc. fleets that misclassify employees as independent contractors.

The Peel Halton Workforce Development Group is reporting a 30% increase in “zero-employee” businesses coded in roles that relate to the trucking industry, according to a Local Labour Market Plan.

Source: Region of Peel

Among those involved in general long-distance trucking in June 2021, there were 7,048 businesses with zero employees — a 28.5% increase over the 5,483 counted in June 2019. There were 5,879 in 2020.

Peel and Halton are both recognized as hotbeds of trucking activity. Transportation and warehousing was the top employer in Peel Region last June, with 39,163 businesses. The sector ranked eighth in Halton Region, with 3,521 businesses.

“As the industry knows, legitimate owner-operators are an important part of the trucking industry and a symbol of the small business spirit that has led to dramatic growth in the trucking industry dating back to deregulation,” OTA president and CEO Stephen Laskowski said in a press release. “But the relevant enforcement entities including the WSIB, ESDC [Employment and Social Development Canada] and CRA [Canada Revenue Agency] should take note as reports like this could also be a clear warning sign that the tax and labor misclassification scam known as Driver Inc., continues to see considerable growth in our sector.”

Employment and Social Development Canada has pledged to use new legislative powers to apply Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) and name employers that don’t comply with employment rules.

The penalties can range from $1,000 to $12,000 depending on the number of employees and a federally regulated fleet’s gross annual revenue.

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has been behind one of the biggest crackdowns on the misclassifications so far, applying close to $1 million in premium adjustments.