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Recognizing Truck Driving As Skilled Occupation Key To Jobs Strategy


Jul 31, 2014 - 4 years ago

By Supply Post

Truck driving is a skilled occupation that should not be lumped in with burger flippers and other low wage/low skill jobs in order for the industry’s jobs strategy to work.

That’s the over-riding comment from the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) in the wake of changes to the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) announced recently by federal employment minister Jason Kenney.

“In an industry as fragmented and diverse as trucking, it’s not surprising there are varying opinions on the TFWP,” says CTA President David Bradley. “Obviously, those companies that utilize the program in order to fill truck driver vacancies will be impacted, whereas those who do not are less concerned.”

According to the minister, the changes are designed to encourage Canadian businesses to fill job vacancies with Canadians, reduce the number of foreign workers in Canada under the program and put a stop to abuses. The minister says that scrapping the program, at least for low wage occupations, remains on the table.

Regardless of whether a company uses the TFWP or not, Bradley says employing Canadians is always paramount and there is a very clear industry consensus that truck driving should be considered a skilled occupation. That fact that it isn’t, says CTA, is a key impediment to addressing the driver shortage, which could reach 33,000 in the for-hire trucking sector by 2020, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Bradley contends trucking companies who use the TFWP do not do so to expand their businesses. “Even prior to the announced changes the program was considered by most to be too cumbersome and restrictive for anything other than a temporary, stop-gap measure to fill unseated trucks when a company is unable to fill those positions with qualified Canadians.”

“The TFWP is what it is,” he says. “It’s not an ideal program, nor is it a solution to the shortage of qualified truck drivers. But it’s all that is available to fill some seats on a temporary basis for those who choose to use it.”

He says CTA would much rather work with the federal and provincial governments to fulfill the industry’s need for qualified Canadian transport operators, or where that is not possible, with qualified immigrant drivers on a path to citizenship.

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