Ontario appears to be open to reviewing its stance on how it classifies certain occupations under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), prompting the Ontario Trucking Association to ask the government to pay attention to truck drivers as well.
Historically, Ontario has restricted the use of the OINP – which essentially allows workers to be brought in with permanent resident status – to occupations classified in NOC skill level A, B and 0. Right now, the largest users of this program are in the tech sector, bringing in highly skilled workers in the information and communications technology fields.
With truck drivers being classified as NOC ‘C’, the Ontario trucking industry has had very limited access to this program since it was founded. However, the government has launched a limited trial pilot being conducted with a few select NOC ‘C’ occupations in the construction and agriculture sectors.
The Ontario Trucking Association has written to Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Laura Albanese, asking whether trucking could also be eventually considered since it is currently experiencing an acute driver shortage.
The letter points out the “misclassification” of truck drivers under NOC as Skill Level C is a sore point for the industry in Ontario. It also states other provinces allow for the recruiting of truck drivers through their provincial nominee programs, but Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions that does not.
Since the next opportunity to change this classification does not arise until 2021, OTA is asking the government to include truck drivers as part of the ‘In-Demand Skills’ stream pilot of the OINP.
“While the industry remains committed to our longer-term goal of moving from NOC C to B, access to the OINP could play an important role for some Ontario carriers to bridge their current labour shortage,” says OTA Jonathan Blackham, director of Policy and Public Affairs.
OTA emphasized how trucking is grappling with a shortage of professional workers unparalleled by most industries.
“Unlike other industries, such as manufacturing, truck driving is an occupation that cannot be offshored or shipped overseas. Overall, demand for trucking remains strong, with the industry’s share of the total transportation sector only growing. As well, with one of the oldest workforces in the country, the trucking industry is facing a ‘demographic tsunami,’” the letter points out.
According to the Conference Board of Canada and transportation research firm CPCS, the industry is on pace for a truck driver shortage of 34,000 drivers by 2024, which could increase to 48,000 based on a combination of different trends that could affect industry demand, labour productivity and occupational attractiveness