OTA: Labour Minister Joins Roundtable; Confirms Improvements to Stabilize Trucking Labour Force and Supply Chain

Members of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) today met with Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, to discuss the industry’s labour challenges and potential solutions to support Ontario’s supply chain.

The meeting, which was held at Bison Transport’s terminal in Mississauga – and was also attended by Deepak Anand, Parliamentary Assistant to Minister McNaughton – comes on the heels of a recently released Trucking HR Canada report, which shows trucking’s job vacancy numbers for the second quarter of 2022 hit new record highs.

Truck Drivers reached a new record number of vacant jobs in Q2 – soaring to over 28,000 nationally, which is up from 25,560 in Q1. Of the 28,210 truck driver job vacancies recorded nationally, over 9,000 (or 33%) are in Ontario reflecting the size and importance of the Ontario market and economy. To address this growing issue, OTA and the Government of Ontario have continued to work together to try and find new ways to meet the industry’s growing need for labour.

“Over the past several months, OTA has discussed several strategies with the province to help stabilize our workforce and help address the acute shortage of truck drivers,” said Stephen Laskowski, President of the Ontario Trucking Association. “Improving the industry’s access to key immigration programs from the federal government, as well as the province’s nominee program, has been one of the key proposals.”

As part of today’s roundtable discussions, Minister McNaughton confirmed the Government of Ontario is doing everything in its power to train and attract more truck drivers to build the province’s workforce. This includes recent changes he’s led at his Ministry to prioritize and expedite applications from trucking candidates in provincial immigration streams. In addition, the province has invested $44M over five years to help almost 4,500 jobseekers start their careers in trucking, for free, through Better Jobs Ontario.

“Ontario’s truckers are everyday heroes who keep goods moving and our economy turning,” said McNaughton. “Our government is proud to work hand-in-hand with the Ontario Trucking Association to get more workers into these meaningful and well-paying careers.”

 Recently, Minister McNaughton also issued a call to the federal government to increase the number of OINP Ontario receives from 9,700 to 18,000 by next year. This would allow the province to increase the number of skilled workers it can recruit in critical industries such as trucking.

Minister McNaughton also shared that Ontario will be making changes this year to allow truck drivers to use two express entry streams of the provincial nominee program. This is being done as part of recognizing changes made under NOC 2021, and the newly implemented federal Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) system, which will make truck drivers eligible for Ontario’s Employer Job Offer: Foreign Worker stream and Employer Job Offer: International Student stream.

In 2019, in consultation with OTA and the industry, the Ontario Government for the first-time added truck drivers to the list of eligible occupations for nomination under the Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills Stream within the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). The OINP is the province’s economic immigration program, which works in partnership with the Government of Canada through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). As part of the OINP, foreign workers, international students and others with in-demand skills, experience and education can apply to the OINP for a nomination. The OINP, in turn, recognizes and nominates people for permanent residence, who have the skills and experience the Ontario economy needs.

“The industry’s participation in the OINP since 2019 should be considered a great success,” said Laskowski. “With over 700 drivers to date being nominated through the program, the decision by the Ford Government three years ago to include the trucking industry has already paid dividends to Ontario’s supply chain and economy and with today’s announcement, we look forward to that continued sustainability for our industry.”

As part of the roundtable, hosted by Bison Transport, the Minister spoke with representatives from Autobahn Freight Lines, Canada Cartage, Cam-Scott Transport, Challenger Motor Freight, GX Transportation, Kriska Transportation, Pride Group Logistics, Prudential Consulting, and the Tandet Group. Much of the conversation focused on the industry’s challenges in attracting labour and the need for additional training support to be developed for perspective new entrants into the industry.

Together, the trucking companies in attendance support virtually every major sector in Ontario’s economy, from automotive manufacturing and chemical production to agriculture/ agri-food and retail, amongst a host of other key sectors in the economy.

Laskowski again thanked Minister McNaughton for taking the time to meet with OTA members to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing our sector.

“The Premier, Minister Mulroney, and Minister McNaughton have been consummate champions for the industry and have worked tirelessly to improve living and working conditions for our drivers and workers,” he said. “We look forward to continuing this work with Minister McNaughton to improve working conditions and compliance in our sector, strengthen the supply chain and allow our sector to continue to ensure Ontarians have access to the goods they need.”

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