New trucking group vows to ‘disrupt the status quo,’ demands seat at decision making table

A newly formed trucking organization has been created over the last two months, and on Saturday brought together at its inaugural gala more than 1,000 people representing about 200 carriers.

The Canada Truck Operators Association (CTOA), comprised largely of trucking companies run by people with South Asian backgrounds, promised inclusivity as it demands a seat at the tables where policy and legislation affecting its members are created.

CTOA dinner event picture
More than 1,000 people gathered at the inaugural gala of the newly formed Canada Truck Operators Association. (Photo: John G. Smith)

The association is headed by executive director Jaskaran Sandhu, a Brampton, Ont.-based lawyer and former executive director of the World Sikh Organization of Canada.

“This is absolutely powerful that the trucking industry has come together,” he told the audience at the Speranza Banquet Hall in Brampton, Ont., Saturday night. “You have here the backbone of the Canadian economy. You have billions of dollars of goods movement that is managed by the folks in this room. Now, that is incredibly powerful.”

However, the segment of the trucking industry that comprises the CTOA has largely been missing from discussions regarding the policy and regulations affecting it, Sandhu noted. A Newcom Media analysis in 2018 found that 17.8% of Canadian truck drivers identified as South Asian, up from 1.8% in 1996. That number was higher in Ontario (25.6%) and B.C. (34.6%).

Not only has this growing segment been missing from the decision-making process, Sandhu also said it feels “targeted” by “legacy” associations who’ve led a high-profile fight against the controversial Driver Inc. business model, which the Canadian Trucking Alliance says improperly classifies employees as independent contractors.

CTOA crowd photo
Trucking industry representatives register to attend the group’s first event. (Photo: James Menzies)

“The folks in this room have, not to their fault, been missing from the table,” said Sandhu. “They’ve been missing from the conversations that impact policy, regulations and legislation that impacts the trucking industry, and that’s a shame. It really is a shame that these people here today haven’t been able to provide their perspective on the policy that impacts them and we’re here to change that.”

About two dozen municipal, provincial and federal politicians came from as far away as B.C, proclaiming their support for the trucking industry.

“We believe in inclusive decision-making,” said Sandhu. “We have a lot to give this country and it’s not just moving goods, it’s changing policy as well. We’ll be at the table shaping every piece [of legislation] that impacts our industry.”

He then introduced a legal team he said will work with the CTOA to defend its members’ classification of drivers. Shari Cohen, a labor lawyer and partner with law firm Davies, said she’s looking forward to working with the association and “pushing back on the targeting of what other industry players and competitors label as the Driver Inc. model.”

She added, “What we have seen from member companies is that the Canada Labour Program at times applies an overly simplistic analysis of whether a driver is an employee or independent contractor.”

But while Sandhu said the organization is set to “disrupt the status quo,” he added last night was a celebration.

“Today will be remembered as when the industry changed for the better,” he said. “Not only is it the first time this many people and companies in the industry have come together, this is the first time the trucking industry has proactively come together and made it clear they want to be at the table. That’s something to celebrate.”

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • A number of lease ops and owner ops say that the interests of truck drivers and owner ops need a organization like this. We a non profit Huron Easyshare would like to see more of the concerns looked by gov including the treatment of new drivers to canada when get sick or hurt in the U S I am happy to work with anyone

  • This is a fabulous thing. Great concept. Now to see if it stays what it has been said to be. Or will it become just like OOIDA, ATA, UTA, ect

  • Well are you here to finally put a wage a fair wage in my pocket or are you here to take even more money from my pocket as it has always been last 35 years wages have been stagnant as you very well know so for that I don’t trust you and your new people one bit ok trust and respect will be earned by you not given by us ok good luck you’ll need it

    • This is just a money making scheme they have setup. These guys will only lower rates and favor each other and import more cheap labour to exploit.

  • So these guys and many others want to cheat the system through “driver Inc.” well maybe another group wants to get rid of log books and decides to cheat by not adhering to the new elog system in Canada, where does this end in anarchy? We all just decide to do what we want? Driver Inc has only benefited unscrupulous Carriers that take advantage of drivers. It’s time that we stand up and force the federal government to classify us as skilled labor and we all join the teamsters

    • Unfortunately you’re right, this new group is made up of 200 carriers all wanting to safe on the employer portion of tax they would have to pay if they had employees rather then contractors, there is no benefit to being a contractor what so ever other then cheating the personal tax system.

    • Agreed but the government has completely sold out drivers to cooperations. There is a supposed “shortage” because no one wants to drive for minimum wage.
      Now these companies started importing cheap labour from overseas that are treated like exploited like slaves when they get here.

  • This is a great start, you would also need to include and hear individual operators opinions and concerns in order to drive this newly formed group forward..

    Thanks Harry.

    • Let’s hope that the entire industry accross Canada steps up to the plate so that we can really have our say !

  • Let’s hope that the entire industry accross Canada steps up to the plate so that we can really have our say !

  • This is the last thing we need is another voice.When Trucking companies only worry about is profits.How many of Trucking company Owners have been on the road for months at a time.

  • The South Asian Community have always had the opportunity to join the Provincial Trucking Associations to voice their concerns, but have failed to do so, but instead have opted for Driver Inc. to avoid taxes, creating an unfair playing field in the marketplace.
    It will be interesting to see how Government addresses the Industries concerns, and in what time frame!!!

  • As a small carrier, myself , with employee drivers strictly on payroll with an average 10 drivers at the moment, three drivers full-time and seven drivers part time, my share of matching the drivers unemployment insurance, and Canada pension plan is about $45,000 a year ,
    on top of all the taxes of the drivers pay themselves to the province and to the federal government.
    It is very beneficial for me to have subcontractor drivers, but I cannot do it for various reasons.
    With new rules being implemented recently, we welcome the changes ,
    where the federal government is forcing all companies to have employee drivers on payroll
    and no more driver Inc. model.
    because it should be a level playing field for everyone.
    The driver Inc. model has been used extensively, and therefore been abused even more so for the last 25 years or so,
    enough is enough , really.
    Drivers new in the country are just very shortsighted, When it comes to that sort of thing ,
    they think by being a subcontracted out driver they will save so much in taxes,
    but in the long term of things you don’t.
    Because you don’t have job security and you don’t have guaranteed paid holidays and if you damage the truck, they make sure they charge you.
    In the long run, it’s not worth it for somebody to be a subcontractor Driver.
    But as Mark Twain famously said : it’s much easier to fool people than to inform them that they have actually been fooled.
    As a proper employer myself with new equipment and salaries for regional drivers, making anywhere from $95,000 a year up to $103,000 a year full-time ,
    I would want to see the driver inc. model permanently abolished from the system and never return back.

  • Very interesting spin on the situation:
    They say they want to be inclusive; I guess they must have misplaced my invitation to the gala.

    Also interesting:
    If I quote percentages in regard to South Asian companies and drivers – I am a racist, if this group quotes those same numbers, they are using them as a fulcrum point to show that they are underrepresented and need a seat “at the table”.

    The first couple paragraphs of this article sounds to me like an outline or draft for how they will be holding the Canadian economy and people hostage to circumvent the Canadian tax system and any other special treatment they’d desire.

    It costs a lot to be Canadian, most of us pay that price because we love this country, then there are the rest, an ever increasing part of the population which are only here to line their pockets without contributing their fair share.

    Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day
    Teach a man to fish and he’ll fish out your pond.

  • When lawyer was mentioned you killed it before it even got started. To bad it couldn’t have been Truckers

  • I agree with the groups idea around the various business model including the driver Inc model . The part concerns me is that it appears to put the individual at a disadvantage because the Driver Inc. Model creates a false sense of control for the individual to operate as a independent contractor . The individual has no input to operations beyond accepting what is put to them by the individual company leadership. However it does download the liabilities of operation onto the individual from the engaging corporation thus the trucking company can dictate demands with no liability a demand such as you ignore the law to get the job done or no pay. That analogy is a oversimplification but reflects the meat of the driver Inc model. There is only one reason I can see for the model to be favored and that is at the expense of the lowest denominator and that is the driver.
    There is a lot deal of disruption in the trucking industry now led by the major corporations that look at the industry as a component of the supply chain. The major industry investors such as food and energy conglomerates cannot alow the industry to continue to be a source of uncontrolled disruptive independence it is to vital a sector to There concept of economic efficiency. Which is all the reward of hard work belongs in the pocket of ythe few.

  • They compromise 17 % of the industry and cause 99% of the big truck wrecks. Every day the carnage continues ands the same “demographics” is to blame..
    This select group has destroyed the trucking industry

  • I will start with a simple question for Mr Sandhu , where and when Sikh religion teaches to steal from your fellow or any people? Driver Inc is nothing more than a scam not to pay taxes and steal HST.
    When you are not paying Taxes you are stealing from your country’s citizens.
    Government’s only source of income is taxes. Talking about we have lots to offer to the country, how about you tell the new comers and admit what the country is offering us. Best police, DOT, Roads, security and services we all enjoy. Don’t forget where we came from and how the things I mentioned are. Don’t bring there over here. In case Mr Sandhu forgot how you can’t get any thing done without bribing some official or a politician. We all know what goes on in our communities unless you are living in a shell. We just don’t want admit it.
    For the people want to fall for this scam, you’re being fooled by the lawyers and accountants, and the company’s. You think you’re making more money, you might, what you’re paying lot more for everything. No benefits, no job security,
    and biggest of all some day you will regret it. When you’re Canadian kids are going to be lost like today’s youth. Only few people that are using you are going to get RICH. Don’t fill the pockets of the lawyers and accountant. Politicians in Canada are you’re servant’s. You don’t have to invite them to be in front of every Birthday, wedding and funeral like we do in India. I don’t have to tell you about the company’s you all know about them. Stay away from the lawyers they been robbing us for generations. Don’t forget where we came from and what the life was like over there. Said a lot God knows what I will do if I was in charge.