The federal government approved 2,902 temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to be hired as transport truck drivers in the second quarter of the year — up from 1,802 the previous quarter, according to a recent Statistics Canada report.
Despite the increase, however, the numbers continue to address a limited share of vacancies.
“It’s more of a Band-Aid over a big gash,” said Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), adding that there is nothing temporary about the driver shortage in the country.
He welcomed the government’s effort with the TFW Program, but said broader immigration initiatives were needed to address the driver shortage.
“We are more excited about the potential of Express Entry and how that could work, where people are coming to Canada can become permanent residents, eventually citizens, and stay in the industry,” he said.
Express Entry offers skilled workers a path to permanent residence as well as quicker processing times.
Craig Faucette, chief program officer at Trucking HR Canada, welcomed the TFW approvals as a good start to addressing the industry’s labor shortages.
“Our vacancies for the same period are 28,210. The 2,900 would be welcome if they turned into drivers down the road. It is a useful mechanism, but is one among many,” he added.
But Faucette said the process can be expensive for employers who have to invest in sourcing drivers, applying for labor market impact assessments that demonstrate Canadian workers are unavailable to fill the jobs, and training any candidates.
“Because it takes so long, there are no guarantees a driver will still be available once they have agreed to it and the process has been approved. We welcome improvements to the system that will help with improving the timelines from application to approval,” Faucette added.
Laskowski said the CTA encourages the federal government to offer a known employer program, so that carriers that have been vetted on labor laws can access candidates from the TFW and the Express Entry programs.
In another immigration-related development, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser revealed that the government is planning a massive increase in the number of immigrants entering Canada.
The government plans to bring in 465,000 permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 in 2024, and 500,000 in 2025. Fraser said in a press release that the move is necessary to ensure Canada’s economic prosperity.
The new plan puts an emphasis on increasing the number of immigrants who will be admitted based on their work skills or experience.
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