Fleet Ops: Human Resources
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Alberta Carriers Talk Immigrant Drivers

BANFF — After a healthy western lunch of steak and potatoes, Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) members, including management from carriers like Manitoulin and Bison, sat down for two and a half hours to talk issues surrounding immigrant drivers.

It was the first business session at the AMTA Annual Conference and featured a panel of experts on immigration. Moderated by Hill Bros. Expressways Ltd. General Manager Bob Hill, the panel featured Evelyn Ackah of Ackah Business Immigration Law, April Shand, vice president of human resources, Westcan Bulk Transport, Chelsea Jukes, recruitment manager, also with Westcan, Joyce Conroy from the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program, and Shauna Kit of W-K Trucking.

Panelists left their gloves at home, and didn't pull any punches; the discussion was insightful and honest, touching on everything from the bureaucracy of bringing over foreign workers, to language requirements, to the need for HR plans, to racism and the importance of treating foreign workers like any other Canadian.

Today's Trucking will have more on foreign workers, but for now, here are some key points from the session:

Evelyn Ackah: "Forecast. Make an HR plan to identify who'll you'll need."

Chelsea Jukes: "We need to have all guns firing in terms of recruitment. We don't have the driving force, we don't have enough people."

April Shand: "Westcan has embraced the temporary foreign worker program; it's a key component to our strategy. But it's a big commitment. There's a 24hr turn-around for domestic recruits; with foreign workers it is much longer."

Evelyn Ackah: " Immigration law is constantly changing. Check the website frequently. Make sure you comply in regards to foreign employment; the government is doing a lot more audits."


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Filed Under:
AMTA Conference Foreign Drivers Skilled Trades.

i am a driver from Ontario.If carriers would pay a driver what the job he does is worth you could get alot more canadian drivers.You want a driver to work 70 hours a week so pay him 25 dollars per hour like any other skilled labourer gets and you will have more drivers.The only reason you want foreign drivers is because you simply dont pay a driver what they should get for what we do.There isnt a shortage of drivers,just a shortage of good paying jobs.Start paying drivers 25 per hour for all his on duty hours and see what happens.

Why is the Carribbean not one of the source countries for foreign drivers??

A few years ago, I applied to one of the companies you mentioned at this western conference, and was appalled that when they offered me a job just how little they paid in comparison to other companies that also haul tankers. I don't understand why you dont send your reporters around to ask the drivers if THEY believe there is a driver shortage, or if its just the trucking companies unwillingness to pay a fair wage. These companies end up treating their employees like the sweat shops in third world countries. This is nothing but a front for these companies to act irresponsibly and offer poor rates.

I cant be more disappointed with the outcome from what i thought are some pretty respectable companies. More immigrants who the above will con into taking low paying trucking jobs that will only put more drviers out of work and on poggy taxing our already over budget governemnt - WRONG answer - we need to wake up - pay our current quailfied PHD's ( professional HWY Drvier ) more $$$ and as an industry we will retain and reruit more, our hwys will be safer , our companies will have less internal HR resosureces spent hiring tranining & recruting. You all have it all worng. If thats the answer were getting from the folks in organizations of the like were all in deep shit

When are these companies going to wake up and realize that if they spent as much effort and money on retaining Canadian drivers as they do hiring foreign workers, that there wouldn't be a driver shortage. It is not hard to understand why the general public doesn't respect us when the trucking companies that employ us clearly feel that getting new lower paid and more poorly treated workers is more important than treating and paying us like we deserve. The new workers come in an screw up and the rest of us are subject to new rules and training to compensate for their lack of skills. 22 years and I am still treated like a rookie. I remember when I was proud to drive a truck instead of feeling like I was stuck in an under paid, under appreciated career. Maybe by the time the trucking companies run out of countries to hire from, the robot technology will be improved enough that we will all be on the skids.

It's not just "when are companies going to wake up". Companies are responding to market forces. People don't want to pay more for goods. Load brokers whine about the high cost of fuel, meanwhile turning around and selling their loads for crap $ to the actual transport companies. The competition is so stiff that if company A doesn't want to do it because they want $$, company B will do it for $ because they are putting 3 drivers to a truck, paying those drivers crap (or even not actually hiring them as employees but having them on contract) so the truck can go 24/7. It's not just the drivers that are put into a corner but also the trucking companies - unless there is some sort of government intervention in regards to labour laws and paying standards for truck drivers, as well as how many people can drive/live in a truck on a single trip, trucking companies will continue to find some way, ANY way, to stay competitive in a market that's designed to pay as little for transport as possible while at the same time not giving a rat's behind about the costs of doing business.
Drivers haven't essentially gotten a pay raise in 15 years. Truck company profits have been shrinking due to the US/CA dollar exchange, fuel costs, stricter log book laws (because apparently professional drivers don't know how to manage their time or know what their limits are, gov't has to do it for them in a way that instead of giving power to the drivers, takes it away by limiting the $$$ they can make), and every tax imaginable from every juristiction that can think of a creative way to bill you one (Kansas property tax, anyone? Really, I'm not kidding. If you ever drove through it, KS calculates a rate based on the probability that you also SLEPT in KS, therefore your cab was property IN KS, therefore you pay property tax.). Companies will find someone to take it out on, and drivers are just easy prey.
Take that on, government 2% per year wage increases.


If the companys involved would pay a decent wage insted of trying to cut everything includind the drivers wages things would be differant. It`s to bad that these companys have to try to hire those that work for a church or another sindicat just to please their own gread for money .If they would treat drivers like they should they would not have a driver shortage. There is another twist to this, if the people that are complaining about the driver shortage would look in their own mirrior they would likely see that they have a company problem relating to there drivers . Don`t retire your older drivers , keep them on as they are a asset.

Reading this article gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. All the talk of treating these immigrant drivers right, taking care to keep the family happy, treating them like people and not property or commodities... these people are being treated better than Canadian drivers! Perhaps if companies were to put that same effort forth to their domestic market, they will likely end up with excellent quality drivers that would be willing to go the distance for their company. I know from experience what it is like to be treated as property and not as a living, breathing human being. It has been difficult to find a company that I would WANT to work for because of what I just mentioned. I truly hope that the employment that I am about to embark on will be just what I have been looking for - to provide a decent living while still being treated as a person, not a number.

Trucking, like other businesses wants a cheaper alternative to having to compete in the open market for labor. The need is going to become so overwhelming that government will continue to get behind foreign worker programs. This will however create a demo-graphical and ethnic divide as immigrants become dominant in certain industries. And Canadian born workers will have less interest than ever in trucking because compensation, working conditions and quality of life will not be able to keep pace with other industries and thriving economic sectors. I am 28 and have never worked at a company with a driver younger than myself.

address issues like much better pay as well as ttime worked, time paid. Does one honestly think that "foreigners" that have been hired for trucking will stay at this when they quickly realize that there are jobs that are less problematic and irksome and financially better than trucking! Hiring "foreigners" is merely a stop-gap solution to a perplexing problem that can be address with honesty and soulsearching by existing participants.

simply have driver's pay worthily enough to attract people.most drivers make just above poverty levels.most can't even save for a down payment on anything. transport rates increase/company profit the same/rate cutting needs to stop. have all user companies pay for this problem. once this happens, surplus of drivers will rise. problem disappears. until then good luck with filling up Canada with unskilled workers.

You are racing to the bottom. Working conditions, and pay, for current drivers, especially those who sleep overnite in their tractor, is not good enough to draw a better class of drivers. All drivers should be paid for all hours worked. Quit giving their time away at shippers and receivers. Recruiters stretch the truth and dispatchers sometimes forget about "body cycles" when it comes to sleep, eating time, and quality of life issues.

Motivation - why is that foreign driver applying for a position?
Regardless of where the applicant is - walking in your recruiters office or overseas - In search of an LMO to keep him in Canada long enough to get his PR card or trying to create a better future for his family? that is the question that should be answered.
Once that is done the challenge of retention begins - training - home time - equipment - routes - dispatch issues etc.
Wages are important - but building employee/company loyalty/relations is the greater benefit - wages will only keep them happy from pay cheque to pay cheque.
The Transportation industry/companies must look with themselves - honestly - to find the real problem of driver shortages - once that is accomplished the rest will follow - regardless of the individual's citizenship standing.

Prefered Etnic hiring practice by anyone is Racism with lipstick

Trucking shortage it's just an excuse to get cheaper labour I'm 52 the trucking industry has every excuse not to hire me I have a clean class 1 license 0 accidents or criminal records.

Many young people in Canada are not going to work for less than $250 per day plus paid for 4meals a day plus free wifi at the customers and a nice driver room with tv and a nice couch in the drivers room and a hotel room one night after being on the road 3 days

why are they taking people only form these countries? I am from the caribbean and have 10 plus yrs experience..can someone there assist in getting job ..usa experience..

If companys took the time to train these people properly, you would not have such a backlash problem. I have personally qu is about money.it driving to Western Canada from Ontario due to safety concerns for myself and my drivers. These "new Canadians just love the " white line" and if you can keep them in there own lanes on Two lane HWYs. Most I,ve seen are talking on phone or looking somewhere else. Companies are so intent on getting bodies in trucks they have very little real world training, maybe a couple of weeks at most, then ok take this load to "Toronto" etc. Some of the worst "drivers" are from the so called big carriers who talk a big game of SAFETY. It's all B.S. it