The Canadian government said any employer found to break the rules of a temporary worker program would face “serious consequences” after an investigation by The Globe and Mail exposed a scheme that saw trucking companies with poor safety records luring inexperienced foreign workers into driver careers.
Canada’s second-largest newspaper found that some trucking companies and immigration consultants were exploiting job-seekers through Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which allows companies to temporarily fill vacancies from outside the country when the jobs can’t be filled. The investigation revealed an array of allegations such as payments for jobs.
“Any employer found to have violated the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will face serious consequences,” Isabelle Maheu, a spokesperson for the program’s administrator, Employment and Social Development Canada, wrote in an email on October 8.
Maheu would not say whether Employment and Social Development Canada was investigating any employers mentioned in The Globe and Mail’s report. But she wrote that allegations of misuse are being investigated.
“The Government of Canada takes very seriously its responsibility to protect the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as well as the safety and welfare of temporary foreign workers, and does not tolerate any abuse or misuse of workers,” Maheu wrote.
Trucking companies across Canada frequently struggle to fill driver positions. Statistics Canada reported more than 20,000 vacancies in trucking during the second quarter of 2019, a number that has been increasing in recent years.
But within the industry, there is growing anger about employers who cut corners to fill trucks and improve their operating margins.
“The article put the final piece of the puzzle together,” said Wendell Erb, CEO of Erb Group, an Ontario-based trucking company that specializes in refrigerated transport.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance responded to the Globe’s report, saying it was “embarrassed by the actions of a small element of our sector.”
The organization, which represents carriers across Canada, called on improved oversight by federal and provincial authorities and also singled out a practice known as “Driver Inc.” where drivers are intentionally misclassified as independent contractors to avoid tax withholding.
The organization also stressed the importance of immigration programs that help fill trucks and other positions in the industry.
“It’s imperative our valued new immigrants end up with the majority of compliant, responsible fleets operating in Canada,” the organization wrote in a statement.