OTA Highlights Prebudget Asks for Upcoming Provincial Budget


Ahead of the 2024 Ontario Budget announcement this month, the Ontario Trucking Association is urging the provincial government to strengthen the economy and reinforce the supply chain by investing in trucking labour and infrastructure programs while protecting workers’ rights.

In its prebudget submission OTA made the following recommendations:

Renew the Skills Development Fund Support for the Explore Trucking Careers Program

OTA is asking the province to support the next round of funding for OTA’s partner program with Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) which provides financial assistance to fleets to onboard new drivers.

“This new proposal is designed to build on the successful onboarding program that OTA and TBDC have partnered on. OTA believes that this proposal will help the trucking industry while paying dividends to the province through improved conditions in the supply chain and overall economy,” said James Steed, Chair, OTA

The Future of Training, Commercial Driver Licenses and Provincial Funding

To ensure a supply of safe and work-ready commercial drivers, OTA for the first time has advised the construction of two vocational schools, which would train about 2000 professional commercial truck drivers annually. The model would mirror a successful training centre which has been operating successfully in Quebec for over 30 years.

“While there are still more discussions to be had with the Government of Ontario, these schools would help fulfill our vision to address the industry’s shrinking labour supply,” says Steed.

Also included in this proposal will be precision changes to commercial truck driver licensing and enhancing oversight of truck driver training in partnership with responsible members of training school industry.

“The final component will involve designing and implementing an institutionalized a funding model for the onboarding of drivers employed by compliant trucking operations,” added Steed. “We are very committed to building these schools and changing the process of training, licensing and funding associated with the profession of truck commercial drivers.”

Driver Inc. – The Need to Protect Workers & Safe Compliant Fleets Serving the Supply Chain

Driver Inc. is a scheme that is designed to put ill-gotten gains in the pockets of those that sidestep labour and tax laws.  The Ontario WSIB has been leading the charge against Driver Inc. in Ontario and OTA has asked that the WSIB receive the resources required to continue this fight against non-compliance, which robs workers of their rights and puts compliant companies at a massive competitive disadvantage.

“OTA has asked multiple departments within government to work with WSIB to help curb gross violations of workers’ rights. Government contracts, employer health tax audits, employee misclassification and the role of forced labour audits all have a role to play,” said Steed. “A strong WSIB presence in our sector is critical.”

Infrastructure Investment to Assist the Trucking Industry

To continue to support truck drivers and the role they play in keeping the supply chain in Ontario moving, OTA has asked the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to continue plans to increase truck rest area parking capacity along Ontario’s major freight corridors in Northern and Southern Ontario. Rest areas support truck drivers in meeting their mandatory off-duty/rest requirements under the hours-of-service regulations.

“MTO has already kickstarted the government’s vision to secure our supply chain with rest area investments across the province and OTA looks forward to working with the government to advance additional expansion of rest area capacity for the trucking industry,” said Geoff Wood, OTA’s Sr. VP Policy.

Recent results from OTA’s Northern Ontario Safety Perception survey also reaffirmed the necessity to add more truck rest areas, as well as increased infrastructure spending for additional passing and truck hill climbing lanes for slower vehicles across the north.

Additionally, OTA also welcomed plans to build the new Highway 413. By providing congestion relief for Highway 401 and adding redundancy to the GTA’s 400-series network, the new highway will significantly improve transit times for goods movement to central and Northern Ontario while strengthening the connection for Canada’s busiest truck-rail intermodal facilities.

OTA reiterated it is critical this project is completed as it will fill infrastructure gaps in Ontario’s roadway links to support the province’s transportation and logistics hubs in the Northwestern GTA that serve as the epicentre of Canada’s supply chain.

“Highway 413 is not only a fundamental piece of infrastructure, but also a key part of Ontario’s success in the future, which will result in increased investment to Ontario, including many regions currently being underserved, for decades to come,” says Wood.

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