OTA calls for federal-Ontario immigration agreement

TORONTO, (May 31, 2004) — The Ontario Trucking Association is asking the province to implement an immigration agreement with the federal government that will make it easier for foreign truck drivers to come and work in Canada.

Currently, foreign truck drivers attempting to immigrate to Canada are deemed to be “unskilled labour” by the federal immigration system — making it almost impossible for a truck driver to meet the minimum points required under normal immigration policy, the OTA says.

The association wants Ontario to follow the path of other provinces, such as Saskatchewan, which has implimented its own immigration agreement under the federal Immigration & Refugee Protection Act. Under the Canada-Saskatchewan Agreement on Provincial Nominees, which was signed in November, 2002, the “unskilled” occupation of truck driver is included in the list of key job skills required by the province. A number of drivers have already been admitted into Saskatchewan as a direct result of this agreement, the OTA says.

Ontario is the only province that does not have such an agreement with the federal government.

“The Ontario trucking industry is deeply concerned about the looming crisis facing our industry as a result of a shortage of drivers. Our driver workforce has been aging for some time because fewer and fewer young people have been choosing the trucking industry as a career or have been prevented from doing so by restrictive insurance practices that deny insurance to younger drivers. As the older drivers retire, there have not been enough younger drivers here in Canada to take their place,” said OTA president David Bradley in a press release.

“Despite our need for these drivers, the existing situation prevents them from coming to live and work in this country. If we are to avoid a crisis in our freight transportation system in this province, Ontario must act to ensure that qualified truck drivers attempting to immigrate to Ontario are given a higher priority,” said Bradley.

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