The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) lauded an announcement this week to establish a Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) aimed at addressing labour shortages and protecting employees such as Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) from workplace abuse. However, the Alliance urges Ottawa to do more – and demands the Government of Canada to specifically crack down on employers in the trucking sector who operate under the corrosive scheme known as Driver Inc, which robs truck drivers of their rights under the Labour Code.
The three-year pilot, announced by Randy Boissonnault, the newly-named Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, is set to begin this September.
CTA, which has been requesting a shift in a similar direction for the TFW program, says the introduction of REP is a positive step to begin addressing labour shortages and reducing red tape for recognized employers. However, the pilot’s effectiveness in protecting foreign workers from abuse in the trucking sector will rely upon the criteria being used to qualify as a recognized employer, and must be supported by a rigorous audit and oversight regime to ensure its intended outcomes are achieved.
“The trucking industry, like many sectors of the economy, has a significant labour shortage, and the need to recruit more Canadians and foreign workers to our sector remains imperative,” said CTA President Stephen Laskowski. “Today’s announcement will assist the trucking industry and the supply chain in stabilizing the distribution networks of multiple sectors of our domestic economy.”
“But access to foreign labour in trucking through the TFW program or other immigration programs should be restricted to a recognized employer program that ensures that labour compliance is strictly adhered to by all participating companies,” he said. “To certify the legitimacy and effectiveness of this program, the Government of Canada must use a robust auditing system that ensures that all firms are complying with the law and workers are protected from scams like Driver Inc.”
Entry into REP will allow for a streamlined application process for employers, with Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) validity for 36 months, and recognized status on Canada’s Job Bank to help recruit potential workers, amongst other benefits. It is being reported that the agricultural sector will be allowed to participate in the pilot beginning in September 2023, with other sectors following in the New Year.
Although CTA has not seen the complete details of how employers will qualify to participate in REP, details following Minister Boissonnault’s news conference indicated that employers must have received at least three positive LMIAs for the same occupation within the past five years from a list of designated occupations and supported by the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) data.
“CTA has already submitted a plan to work with the federal government to create a recognized employer program for the trucking sector that factors in labour compliance audits, which ensures foreign and domestic workers are being protected from the Driver Inc. scam, which robs them of their rights. CTA believes this new pilot program is an excellent opportunity to introduce these measures in this pilot for our sector.”