The Canadian Trucking Alliance is calling on the federal government to protect immigrant workers from abuse.
This statement follows an investigative report carried out by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper alleging immigration agents and trucking companies in the province of British Columbia were making temporary foreign skilled workers pay huge sum of money in exchange for jobs driving semi-trucks, a practice that is considered illegal.
The report discovers many workers had little or no experience handling such vehicles and their heavy consignments, especially in winter conditions involving weather conditions like ice or snow, and exploitation in the form of underpayment and/or long hours was prevalent.
Some truckers interviewed said they endured the conditions in order to apply for Canada permanent residency.
The Globe and Mail investigation started in the wake of a fatal accident that saw a loaded semi-truck driven by an untrained driver from India ran into a bus carrying a hockey team from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, killing sixteen (16) passengers.
Jaskirat Singh Sindu, who arrived in Canada as a student, is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for the incident and will be deported back to India upon his release.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance outlined the crucial role immigrant drivers play in Canada’s trucking industry, which has one of Canada’s highest job vacancy rates at 6.6 per cent and an estimated 20,000 vacant positions.
“The solution is not to stop federal/provincial immigration programs,” the Alliance stated. “There are so many commercial truck drivers going through diferent programs that are employed by legitimate compliant and ethically responsible companies who are facing a driver shortage.”
Rather, the Association called for the Canadian federal government “to established trusted and effective employer programs.”
“The immigration programs presently in place must make sure participating sectors have the required standards in place for training, equipment, environmental, health and safety before they participate in such programs.
“To protect foreign workers from abuse, while also helping the Canadian economy, it’s important our valued temporary foreign workers end up with the majority of compliant, ethical and responsible carriers operating in Canada.”
Following the Humboldt incident, the Canadian Trucking Association developed a 10-point action plan to regulates the activities of non-compliant trucking companies and improve supervision by provincial safety authorities and federal regulatory agencies.
“To put simply, it’s far too easy to establish a trucking company in Canada; and once in the sector, it’s rarely complicated for these unethical carriers to coast under the regulatory radar and avoids sanctions and enforcement” the statement said.
The body also said it expects to have a final industry-government regulatory system by early 2020 that would include stiffer entry requirements and better monitoring of existing companies.
The association also urged the federal government to take prompt action against what it says is a “misclassification scam” called Driver Inc.
In this business model, truck drivers are treated as independent contractors, which the Association says allows “unprincipled fleet owners” to take undue advantage of driver’s health and safety rights and open them to substantial tax penalties.
“[The Canadian Trucking Alliance] will continually collaborate with the Canadian federal government and all jurisdictions to ensure that gross violators receive the enforcement attention they needed and that our immigration programs grow to meet the demands of responsible and accountable carriers so future truck drivers coming to Canada for a better life never have to experience detestable treatments from a safety and labour perspective.”