|Canada’s trucking industry is facing a crisis: it is expected to reach a supply deficit of nearly 34,000 truck drivers by 2024 as a result of the retirement of aging drivers and the disinterest of younger people in the business. Due to the fact that 90% of all consumer products and foodstuffs are shipped by truck throughout the nation, this could mean a serious problem for both citizens and businesses alike.
“The simple truth is the trucking industry is nearing a crisis point when it comes to meeting the demands for labor in our sector,” said the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) in a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology. “When this point is reached, it will no longer be just a trucking issue — but an issue for the entire economy.”
CTA president Stephen Laskowski stood before the Standing Committee in a plea to create a trucking-focused immigration initiative. In addition to removing the need for businesses to obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which ensures that foreign workers aren’t taking jobs away from current citizens and residents, the CTA wants to create the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot; the five-year pilot will involve a small number of communities and selected provincial and territorial governments to provide newcomers — including professional truck drivers — support in getting settled in their local community.
“With the trucking industry’s significant driver shortage, and lack of level playing field access to immigration as a source of labor, this program is welcomed by large and small carriers,” said Laskowski.
The CTA hopes that less governmental strings and a smoother transition will encourage foreign skilled truck drivers to come to Canada for work and will encourage more companies to hire some of the new immigrants that arrive every year. Considering the fact that Canada primarily accepts immigrants that are skilled, the incentive program makes sense.
Compared to the U.S., which remains Canada’s largest trading partner, the differences are staggering. Canada weighs an immigrant’s chance of economic success and integration, with 63% of those admitted being due to their job skills; in America, 63% of immigrants emigrated because they already had family living in the country.
Although emigrating to Canada is difficult, the nation obviously does not have the same attitude towards immigrants that the U.S. does: with 25% of the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) detainees having lived in the country for five years, and a shocking 18% having lived in the country for 10 years, they certainly aren’t welcomed. Laskowski and the CTA are hoping that the Canadian government will actually loosen the restrictions already in place so more skilled workers from all over the world can establish themselves as truck drivers in Canada.