Canada’s trucking industry is giving Ottawa two thumbs up for its work in helping internationally-trained truckers immigrate here but wants Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to do even more to prioritize these much-needed workers.
“As IRCC and the government of Canada know, the economy and the skills that are most needed to sustain it are changing,” said Jonathan Blackham, the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s director of policy and public affairs, in a statement.
“The Express Entry program itself is also changing with the inclusion of occupations like trucking, which have historically been excluded from these types of programs.”
Last month, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Monday Canada is going to launch a new pathway this summer under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to help employers hire skilled refugees and other displaced individuals – including for trucking Canada jobs.
“Canada is a global leader in helping skilled refugees connect with employers struggling to find workers in critical areas while giving newcomers the opportunity to restart their careers and their lives here in Canada,” said Fraser.
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“Our government will continue to develop and scale innovative immigration measures to help employers address their critical labour shortages and provide refugees with the opportunity to live in safety while rebuilding their lives.”
The announced, new EMPP pathway did not come as a surprise as back in December last year, Ottawa was already talking about expanding opportunities for refugees to come to Canada and invested $6.2 million to help partner organizations run six projects to do just that under the EMPP.
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“Resettlement provides refugees with the opportunity to live in safety and rebuild their lives but it shouldn’t mean their career experience gets overlooked in the process,” said Fraser in December last year.
“Through this ground-breaking program, our government is highlighting skilled refugees’ professional achievements by allowing them to continue their careers in Canada while giving employers access to a pool of global talent.”
Under the new EMPP pathway announced Monday, Ottawa is promising to give employers more opportunities to fill a wide range of in-demand jobs, including:
- nurse aides;
- personal support workers;
- long-term care aides;
- software engineers;
- web designers;
- mechanical and electrical engineers and technicians;
- tourism and hospitality workers, and;
- truck and delivery service drivers.
With the new pathway, the EMPP will include a more flexible approach to eligibility by allowing applications from other displaced people who lack a durable solution and who are in need of international protection to apply.
“This program will avoid the need for employers to tap into Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) … In most cases, we will be able to approve people within six months from start to finish,” Fraser told members of the Empire Club of Canada on March 27.
CTA Submission To IRCC Calls For Vetting Of Employers To Give Trusted Companies A Break
But Canada’s national organization representing the trucking industry wants the IRCC to do even more.
In its submission on the federal government’s consultative process launched this spring, An Immigration System for Canada’s Future, the CTA claims the trucking industry has one of the highest job vacancy rates and the oldest workforce in the country.
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The acute labour shortage in the industry is one of the biggest threats to long-term economic recovery and stability of Canada, the CTA maintains.
The CTA’s submission touches on key immigration programs and systems like Express Entry, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and the vetting of employers to have faster processing of the economic immigration applications of future workers of known employers.
As the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system has changed to better categorize and recognize the true classification of occupations, Blackham said immigration programs like Express Entry will need to similarly adapt to ensure the most in-demand jobs, like truck drivers, are being prioritized.
Long standing issues relating to the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, processing times and consistency of service were also raised as part of the submission.
The trucking industry association also again stressed the need to address what it sees as labour abuses and issues relating to Driver Inc., an arrangement whereby a truck driver incorporates and effectively enjoys many of the tax breaks of an owner-operator but does not own, lease or operate his or her truck.
“Instead they drive the carrier’s vehicles and are virtually indistinguishable from an employee,” maintains the CTA on its website.
“Many of the carriers and drivers involved in this scheme are knowingly avoiding many of their tax obligations, including paying the appropriate source deductions … From the driver’s perspective, many are knowingly and unknowingly taking advantage of the small business tax deduction that would otherwise not be afforded to them as individuals.”
The CTA is asking Ottawa to bring in trusted or known-employer programs to vet participating companies to ensure newcomers are treated and paid fairly.