Trucking isn’t a low wage, unskilled job says APTA

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DIEPPE, N.B. – The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) is once again decrying the federal government’s recent changes to the temporary foreign workers’ program (TFW).

Last month, the industry association issued an objection about changes Ottawa made to the way the program was run—in particular, it complained about the increase to the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fee—which jumped from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer.

Now, the APTA is disputing the way drivers are classified. APTA executive director Jean-Marc Picard said, truckers shouldn’t be lumped in with other workers earning minimum wage.

“The government introduced these changes two weeks ago and if you are classified in a high wage occupation, these changes don’t apply in most cases. Unfortunately, the truck driver is categorized as a low wage occupation; therefore we are obliged by all these changes,” he said.

“Even though we pay our long haul drivers above the provincial medians, we are lumped with all types of truck drivers”.

Picard feels that the needs of the industry aren’t understood by the federal government or by the minister of employment and social development.

“Minister [Jason] Kenney obviously doesn’t realize the driver shortage in our industry and hasn’t considered many factors when he made this decision. This will have long-term impacts to our industry in Atlantic Canada and to our overall economy. We understand what he is trying to do, to put Canadians to work but this is extreme and will have a damaging impact for our industry.”

“There are many different types of truck drivers and salaries can fluctuate, but long haul commercial truck drivers average $55,000 and up annually. The government should separate us from the low skill group and recognize that we pay more than the provincial medians.”

“Trucking companies are faced with a huge dilemma now, not only can’t they get applications processed for TFW, they will lose the ones they have which means no driver to drive and a $200,000 truck sitting around in your yard that you have to pay for.”

The APTA condemnation comes on the heels of a Nova Scotia trucking company being cleared of not abiding by the rules regulating the employment of temporary foreign workers. In May, Employment and Social Development Canada suspended Eassons Transport Ltd. of Berwick, N.S. from participating in the program. At the time, the government website justified its action with a notice proclaiming there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that the employer or group of employers provided false, misleading or inaccurate information in the context of the request for that opinion.”

The company denied breaking any rules when it came to the hiring and employment of Jamaican drivers. As of yesterday, the suspension has been lifted and Eassons’ name has been removed from the website.

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  • Those APTA members need to pay the drivers they already have better as most drivers I talk to that work for APTA members are among the poorest paid (skilled workers in the country)

  • WOW, a whole 55K to be gone a week or multiple weeks @ a time. You folks @ the APTA really know how to pay your drivers well!
    Pathetic wages, no wonder you need to import help! No self respecting driver should have to work for that pittance.

    • Well said Michael Gower.

      It is interesting that there are never any reports about how most of these trucking association member carriers refuse to obey Canada’s Labour Laws and pay overtime.
      They continually cry ‘driver poor’ when reality is they are ‘ethically poor’ when they resort to what boils down to theft.
      As in stealing overtime pay from drivers by not paying it.

      I’ve already emailed various government officials asking how these TFW employing carriers can pass the standards when they can’t even abide by the laws.
      A good thorough labour board audit on their payroll practices was suggested.

      • The APTA needs to audit all their members of their payroll practices and blacklist any member not paying overtime or shortchanging ownerop.(s) before asking the TFW for their members. Some APTA members seem to refuse obey Canada”s Labour Rules. They having been using TFW(s) drivers to under bid other trucking companies keeping the wages of truck drivers from going up in the past 7 years. Many shippers told me that APTA members were able to bid 7 to 8 cents a mile cheaper than OTA members. The OTA members reacted by trying force out small part time truckers / farmers and to bring more TFW(s), and not increasing truck drivers wages in On.

  • What a pathetic article. 55000 for 60+ hours a week is not a lot of money and whoever thinks it is should try it.did anybody else notice how they are trying to scare consumers hopin that will be enough to get government to allow tfw.pathetic

  • More nonsense from the OTA/CTA. The only shortage in this industry is money and carriers willing to sell service as opposed to a low rent rate.

    • Any member of the OTA/CTA should have show how they will pay for training of new drivers here. They also need work with small non member carriers of less than 5 trucks to move all these surplus loads instead of using cheap poorly trained overseas drivers. The OTA pushed speed limiters in Ontario but did not want to understand that drivers pay per mile needed to up and with E-logs coming in many truck drivers can no longer make enough to make house payments in the Toronto area. Many OTA members have been hiring overseas drivers for 2 years, until the drivers got their PR. These drivers then got other better job for the last 10 years the foreign truck driver program was called the male nanny program and more abuse by OTA/CTA members and with the right (donations by OTA ,members in Ontario nobody would do anything about despite many smaller trucker and (leased owner-op concerns). The OTA should have come up and pay for training for 5,000 new drivers per year in Ontario. They also need to set up a load board that handles all these (surplus) loads that is free for any body that has 3 or fewer trucks. The OTA also needs sit down with Owner-op groups and set Owner-op and dump truck rates and truck driver pay to be paid by any member with 6 or more trucks. The fed gov was very wise to limit foreign drivers and should only allow them to come in at one per company per 6 months until all these changes are done. The OTA also needs to set up a office in a truckstop and 3 phone lines for drivers and owner-ops to phone come in person to have to listen to and act on any concerns, with the power to blacklist any shipper or customer of the trucking industry that does not pay waiting time or freight bills on time. The M.T.O. needs to check with drivers about pay and compare it to the log books of the drivers. This will improve safety but at the current time the M.T.O. cannot do this. The MTO needs to audit every OTA member in the next 3 years after the new pay rates are set. Then and ONLY then can we allow and OTA/CTA member to bring in more truck driver per company than their are extra bedrooms in the owners home (limit 4).

  • What is it gonna take for truck drivers to stand up and say enough is Enough!! I’m tired of working for low wages, no overtime pay,(after 60 hrs only) free wait time, maybe that’s why there is a driver shortage. It won’t be long before the minimum wage is closer to a truck driver, like Washington state $15 hr. !

  • That number of $55,000 does not include the $15,000 or so a year of personal costs that the driver will have to spend for being on the road.

    Meals eaten out, showers, motels on occasion, etc.

    Then the picture looks even worse.

    But let’s do the 7-11 or MacDonald’s index.

    Lets say you work two eight hour shifts at one of these places every day. You finish your shift at one and go to the other.

    You are home every night.

    You are paid BC min wage of $10.25 per hour with no overtime since these are two jobs.

    Your yearly income will be $42,640.

    So in other words you will earn MORE than driving a truck based on the $55,000 a year (minus $15,000 for on the road expenses).

  • Importing foreign truck drivers to fill seats that domestic drivers find too low paying, is nothing new. It has been tried a few times by other provincial trucking associations and the results were rather disastrous. What makes the ATPA think this will be different? Are Jamaicans going to succeed where Europeans failed?

    If lower wages are the key to solve the driver shortage, why not go really low and pay the drivers peanuts in which case you would hire drivers that have a demonstrated love for peanuts or perhaps bananas.

    Alternatively, they could hook up the driver’s neurological (brain) system directly to the satellite communication equipment and have the dispatcher control the driver remotely. This would eliminate any back talk and demands for higher wages

    Better yet, why not eliminate the driver altogether and use satellite technology to drive the truck remotely in which case the ATPA could have the trucking company bosses deliver freight across the country while sitting in their leather office chairs.

    Apparently, any idea will fly with these guys as long as they don’t have to pay a fair wage. Lady Gaga must have had dealings with the Canadian trucking associations when she wrote: “You know that I want you, you know that I need you, I want your love as long as its free”.

  • Importing foreign truck drivers is nothing new. It has been tried before and the results speak for themselves: it is a complete waste of time and money because the drivers don’t stay. The APTA is apparently out of touch with these facts just as they don’t really get what has caused the driver shortage.

    The provincial trucking associations love to use the phrase “driver shortage” as though it is some kind of misfortune that has inadvertently struck upon them like bad weather on farmers in need of governmental assistance. The reality is that they are the victims of their own mismanagement and failure to face reality.

    The government has correctly categorized the truck driver occupation as a low skilled job because the hourly pay (after road expenses, not to mention lifestyle) is on par with that of a Mcdonalds cook or Tim Hortons waitress.

  • My late Grandfather was a plumber who retired in 1961.

    He lived to 1973 and I remember as a child that he used to say “if I were a plumber today I would be a rich man.”

    In other words he lived long enough to see the trade a plumber go from a percieved dirty low paying blue collar job to a well paid skilled trade.

    If he were alive today he would be stunned!

    In the 1950’s auto mechanics were referred to as “grease monkeys” because of the low pay and status of this job.

    Today however if someone tells you that they are a mechanic or plumber these are highly paid skilled jobs – but they did not used to be one generation ago!

    The trucking industry management and carriers want to insure that the job of semi truck driver stays where plumbing and mechanics were in the 1950’s and earlier.


    Simply because when you re-define the job of semi rig driver as suddenly “skilled” then you put massive upward pressure on wages like what happened in mechanics and plumbing several decades ago.

    When you define trucking as “unskilled” then you keep wages depressed and the government of Canada goes right along with this dynamic.

    • We pay our drivers $.50 per mile plus $21.00 per hour (waiting time) after they have 2 years driving truck. We also bring in about 7 TFW(s) per year and send 2 back after 5 weeks to the country they have came from. We try to bring one of the TFW(s) each year who is also a mechanic. We hire about !8 news drivers per year from Canada about 10 of those last the 6 months that we put most new and foreign drivers with a older driver from Canada. The TFW(s) are paid $100.00 per day for the first 6 months as are the new drivers from Canada (also paid $100.00 per day for 6 months ) then $.45 per mile for the next year. We bought no new trucks in 2008, 2009, 2010, and have some 1995,(s) and 1996(s) and !997(s) still in the fleet. At this time we can not afford to upgrade those trucks and find the TFW(s) can keep those trucks on the road with very few on the road repairs. We have 4 full team trucks and 7 instructor trucks and 30 single driver trucks and approx. (12) owner/leased driver trucks buy 7 new highway tractors per year and based out of MB. They allow us to insure new drivers to go into the U.S. The leased driver trucks are paid $1.22 per mile plus a $.42 fuel surcharge in June plus free plates and insurance with our net cost of fuel (no markup) if they work 25 days per month. Truck driver pay needs to go up to get new people into driving truck. I have been MBTA meetings and been told that we are over paying our drivers and that is why can not afford to buy more new trucks. We still lose drivers to other jobs that pay better or more home time. The CTA needs to put the heads of all the large shippers in a room and not let them out until the shippers agree to pay at least $2.00 per mile and waiting time at $1.00 per minute for any company that runs E-log. I hired 4 drivers from one APTA member the drivers pay went from approx. $45,000 per year to $65,000 per year.

  • We have been told that we will have pay truck drivers on TFWs permits $24.50 per hour. The CTA. needs to sit down with young truck drivers from Canada. Many people in Canada are willing drive truck for $25.00 per hour. At those wages only remote rural parts of Canada will need to import truck drivers.

    • No companies are willing to pay $24.50 per hour so i would not tell you that you should come to Canada to drive truck at this time. There are lot of truck drivers here doing other jobs that pay as good or better than driving truck.

  • Most of the companies here in Nova Scotia run to the U.S. But in the initial job interview, they do not tell the potential new driver that HE/She will have to pay the tolls and faxes and such in U.S. dollars up front from their own money and then wait until you get home to get it back. Now if they issue and advance which is picked up on the U.S. side the driver is also charged 4%-6% more for taking the advance it comes off of your pay. So if your wife is sitting home with bills to pay on payday and he/she is in the U.S. after taking that advance she my or may not get a paycheck because the company has advanced it to you to pay tolls but it is not your money to buy food and such with. You pay to move their freight first and lets say your are away for 3 weeks on the road Hungry you only have their money for tolls and faxes or maybe to wash out a trailer you still will not have a pay check come payday they have advanced it to you already on the road. No pay until you are back home and paperwork is handed in. And then you may still not get a pay because they advanced it to you on the road. Ask these questions at the interview, How much American cash you have to spend on your first trip to move their freight and hope they have EZ pass for the eastern seaboard. Also if you reset in the U.S. you are not getting paid a dime, 36 hours without pay and hungry and stressed. The truth about trucking in Atlantic Canada, any wonder there are trucks sitting. They try to entice new drivers with saying $50,000 or more do the math after taxes and other expenses on the road it is less than minimum wage, oh but we give you a new truck they should you pay for it. Tony

  • This industry is totally pathetic here in Atlantic Canada, Companies hire new drivers to haul to the U.S. but the driver has to pay all the tolls up front in U.S. dollars. Drivers need to stand up and stick together about these things, Without drivers transportation companies do not have a company, WE pay the exec wages and the office staff salaries, we sacrifice our family lives to make such low wages, and often go hungry on the road, to see if we can get a paycheck on pay day while our wife sits at home worrying about bills and such and your safety on the road. Give me a break about a driver shortage, there is none all the TFW’s who come here work without saying a word , because the employer has the power over them for 2 years if they what PR status. Which they may not get under the new changes. So go ahead carriers bring them in by the boat load to fill the driver shortage. Tony

  • Guys, we need to start working together out here. #1 start running legal even if you are still running paper logs. Tell dispatchers NO bottom line if you are out of hours get off the hwy, period. Put the onus back on them to explain why loads are late and such. Start working to the rules we have take your breaks, you are only paid mileage anyway. Do your safety checks, work for companies that have strong safety policies, and a 24 hour safety person you can call if a dispatcher is trying to make you do something illegal. Do not go to work for a company if they do not have Toll booth passes, especially U.S. passes. Do not take money from your own pocket for tolls or anything else, It is their freight, their truck etc. Do not take cash advances unless it is their cash up front and what is not spent return the balance with receipts, But do not have it taken from your pay while on the road, do not use any credit cards they may give you only fuel cards. Remember it is your License, protect your record, Soon these small companies who still operate this way will be gone anyway. Encourage new technology EOBRS are here for your benefit as well as theirs,do not accept anything less than this stick together and we can make a better industry.

  • Interesting how the APTA can make these statements but not one trucking company in the Maritimes has participated with Angela Splinter trucking resource Canada in the surveys put out by HR to see where they rate. They claim it is not a minimum wage job here in the Maritimes, Well what about the days and nites you spend on the road with no pay. The first 24 hours on any layover is on you in other words FREE. Breakdowns first 2-4 hours free. Pre trips post trips NO PAY. Stopped in bad weather no pay. Travel to orientation classes and road test NO PAY, ETC.ETC. is it any wonder they do not want to participate with Trucking HR Canada here in the Atlantic region. Oh resets on the road if they allow it 36 hours no pay.

  • The trucking industry here in Atlantic Canada is 10 or more years behind the rest of Canada, No ELD,s no PIC programs still on paper logs, no delay time paid, first 2 hours showing up for work is free waiting at a terminal or drop is free, re set in the U.S. is free reset in Canada is free, 60 plus hours per week is free no OT but oh you can make up to $50,000 gross if you work 7 days a week never home and run illegally

  • I worked for a large carrier was told, i would be paid for the faxes and tolls out my own pocket but never got the money back. I was told would paid $20.00 per hour when waiting loaded or unloaded and time at customs. They also forgot to pay layover pay and travel costs when going to pickup a truck from other drivers who had left.

  • There is so much BS about driver shortage and high pay. What do you call high pay? Every company makes you give up at least the first hour of waiting time. I have never heard of an industry where a worker waits for a machine to be repaired and gives up the first hour. Who the heck came up with that idea? Every other industry gets paid overtime after 40 hours and truckers don’t? What is that all about? Drivers don’t get paid for pre-trips, fueling or stuck at the border, Only when the wheels turn. Then they average out 60 mph and say that is what you get per hour. What a pile of crap. In a 70 hour week how many paid hours are you getting; surely not even close to 70. I love trucking and have been doing it for over 30 years, but I encourage any young person; STAY AWAY. There is no quality life here. With so many new style drivers out here today the roads are getting more dangerous every day. And I am not talking about the 4 wheelers! Drivers should be getting danger pay.