The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is applauding the provincial government for welcoming the trucking industry into the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program, through the in-demand skills stream.
The 2019 budget reads: “To better reflect employer and labour market needs, the government will seek to expand the occupations eligible for the Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills Stream to include transport truck drivers and personal support workers.”
The change gives Ontario trucking companies the same access to foreign labor sources currently provided to the agriculture and construction industries.
“Ontario’s economic competitiveness is highly dependent on the trucking industry as the dominant mode of freight transportation in the province,” said David Carruth, chairman, Ontario Trucking Association. “Having access to this program provides trucking companies an avenue to recruit the talent they need to fill gaps in their workforces.”
Prospective truck drivers will have to go through Ontario’s mandatory entry-level training program, and will require further in-house training by their employer.
“The industry is taking steps to help address its labor shortages – from increasing wages to better marketing the opportunities available in the industry – but these measures alone will not be able to meet the labor needs over the coming years without access to labour through immigration,” said Carruth. “Today’s budget announcement will provide assistance to our sector and by extension the Ontario economy.”
“Making sure this province stays open for business has been one of the (Premier Doug) Ford government’s guiding principles. The decision to allow trucking access to the OINP is a critical step in supporting that vision,” added OTA president Stephen Laskowski. “While the trucking industry does not expect immigration, on its own, could or should solve the industry’s labor shortage, it’s clear immigration and the recruitment of professional foreign truck drivers through programs like this one will need to play a larger role moving forward.”
The Ontario trucking industry will also be allowed to participate in a pilot program that will bring highly-skilled immigrants to smaller communities.
The budget also confirmed the government will maintain the tax exemption for natural gas used as a transportation fuel.
It will also allow electronic documentation for International Registration Plans, making it easier for truck drivers to confirm their credentials and reduce paperwork.