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Dear Mr. Kenney: Is $55K Really a ‘Low Wage?’

DIEPPE, N.B -- The trucking industry employs close to 30,000 people in Atlantic Canada but can’t attract qualified local drivers.   

Trucking companies rely on programs such as Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW). 

Jason Kenney (Canada's Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism) recently announced some major changes to this program, and the organization that represents truckers in The Maritimes—The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA)—has come out swinging in defence of the program.

Kenney’s changes, the APTA charges, will:

* Harm trucking companies;

* Damage the Maritimes economy;

* Hurt local taxpayers;

* Worsen the driver shortage by sending the remaining qualified drivers in the area to other parts of the country.

* Finally, the APTA says, it’s clear the Federal Government doesn’t realize that in the Maritimes, long-haul truck driving, with an average wage of $55,000 a year, is anything but a low-paid occupation.

Jean-Marc Picard, APTA Executive Director, elaborated: “If you are classified in a high-wage occupation, these changes don’t apply in most cases. Unfortunately, the truck driver is categorized as a low-wage occupation; therefore we are obliged by all these changes.

 “Even though we pay our long-haul drivers above the Provincial medians, we are lumped with all types of truck drivers”.

 “There are many different types of truck drivers and salaries can fluctuate but long-haul commercial truck drivers average $55,000 and up annually. 

“The government should separate us from the low-skill group and recognize that we pay more than the provincial medians.  

 “Trucking companies are faced with a huge dilemma now. Not only can’t they get applications processed for TFW, they will lose the ones they have which means no driver to driver and a $200,000 truck sitting around in your yard that you have to pay for”. 

Picard said the National Occupational Code for the Tractor Trailer Drivers must change in order to get them out of the unskilled category.

 “We can’t haul goods if we don’t have drivers; therefore, carriers will have to park trucks and refuse contracts.  This will have a trickledown effect to our overall economy and consumers will pay more for goods.  Not really what Atlantic Canada needs right now”.  

 “We, as an industry, are investing thousands of dollars every year to recruit Canadians and to train them, but there are just not enough qualified drivers to fill the demand so we rely on temporary foreign workers. 

“Any company will tell you they would rather hire locally then outside of Canada. Companies pay up to $10,000 to bring in a Temporary Foreign Worker, train them and put them on the road. That’s a pretty big investment for someone you don’t know and have no idea if they’re going to work out.   

 “Minister Kenney obviously doesn’t realize the driver shortage in our industry and hasn’t considered many factors when he made this decision. This will have long-term impacts to our industry in Atlantic Canada and to our overall economy. We understand what he is trying to do, to put Canadians to work but this is extreme and will have a damaging impact for our industry.”



Email Editor

How many hours did that driver have to work to make $55,000? Factor in all the hours and it's a low paying job.

The average truckers works 80 hours per weeks makes their logbook say 65 risks jail after cheating on his log if he kills someone. $55,000 into 4000 hours with no over time is aprox. $14 per hour trucker should make $22.00 plus overtime.60% of truck drivers do other jobs spend their own money on things the companies should pay for. The cta needs to understand that low wages does not allow them to bring in offshore drivers

If we could get the TFW going full swing in trucking then we wouldn't have to pay those truck drivers $55,000 per year. Then we could get it done for $20,000 per driver, have 3 drivers living in every truck and the truck would never have to stop moving. Then we could give really big raises to the trucking people who really matter, the office staff and managers. I mean really. Any neanderthal can drive a truck and why should we have to pay any more than minimum wage to get the job done.

Heh! Now who can you go to work for in the Maritimes and make $55,000 per year for legally? I would guess $40,000 is more of the going wage for a truck driver in the Maritimes. Remember also how much is costs to live on the road these days.

What a friggin joke. Truck drivers are the most disrespected employees in the country. That 55 grand came for at least 3600 hours of work. You can own your own truck and go broke one trip at a time. please stop with the BS. Pay up people and there will be no shortage. I don't recommend this lifestyle or industry to anyone.

BULLHOCKEY! The problem is that the shipping companies think that they can get away with paying such Ridiculously low rates that the companies can't afford to pay drivers a fare rate. Freight brokers keep cutting the rates with ABSOLUTELY NO CONSIDERATION OF WHAT IT COSTS. This has changed drastically the face of transportation over the past ten years or so. To the point that not only the crappy drivers, but also the REALLY GOOD ONE have had their 'GIVE A DAMN' busted right in to early retirement.

Freight brokers have to find a cheap carrier to carry that freight. so it goes back to the companies. I agree, the rates are to low. Seriously, not my problem. I provide a service, I drive. Safely and professionally. This problem could be solved fairly quickly with an organizing campaign that puts every driver on the same pay scale. Negotiating is what I am talking about. An idea that most out here would be opposed to I think. Rates would have to be adjusted to compensate for a better pay scale. By the way, TFWs are not stupid. They know that they are being abused. They like money too.

Many trucking companies will send out new truck drivers out with no money to buy food . I watched truck driver making a meal out of the free samples at Sams club. Trucking companies should not be able to send a driver into the U.S. than $300.00 or $50.00 to live on . I talked to driver who just got $200.00 from his company after not having any money to live on for 3 days. The fed. gov. neds to set trucking rates before allowing any trucking company to bring in more than onr foreign person per year. The owner or general manager should have to put up that foreign person in their own home for the first 12 months

I drove for Smith Transport in the 1970s when we were all Teamsters but left at the 1982 strike. Fairly recently in the middle 20s I went back to work for a while as a driver and found that things had changed drastically. There so many regulations and changes in the equipment that I don't see how a potential driver without extensive training can be successful in the business or drive in safety on the road. This job is no longer an unskilled job and it is about time that our governments not only acknowledge that but also give drivers the respect they now deserve in the modern driving environment.

To whom it may concern you do have some factoid but $55000 a year to be gone from your family all the time working 60 to 70 hours per week and in lots of case your gone 2 or 3 weeks from your family.Look at your office manager making 125000 thousand a year home every night
and you wonder why nobody wants to drive a trucks. Exploiting 3rd world country to drive your trucks is just ridiculous.How many hundreds of million of profit is McCain and Irving Also Armour making every year and say they c'ant pay there driver what they should be to retain drivers. Please Stop crying poor mouth and share.

Ok if trucking companies won't pay more than simply cut work hours to 10/day 50/week MAX for the exact same pay they get now. So the truckers would be working basically what other skilled trades work and have better home time. I'd bet my last Dollar more would look at trucking if it were simply a JOB and NOT a Lifestyle.

The APTA. would have raise wages to $.45 to $.50 per mile plus waiting time at $20.00 plus per hour, or park their trucks. No APTA. member should be able to bring any offshore drivers until every APTA member is paying their average driver $70,000 per year on a legal or e-log.

The math is simple. A driver works 70 hours a week for 52 weeks; this is 3640 hours per year. $55000/3640 hrs = $15.10/hr.
Eastern companies hire TFWs to keep wages low. Western companies hire TFWs to keep equipment moving.

The APTA. members need to set 1% of their gross income aside to train drivers already in Canada. The APTA. needs to show on a total hours worked they are paying (their) truck driver at least the average hourly wage of all workers in Canada. They need to set up 10% plus one of their trucks as trainer trucks. The APTA needs to lobby so every trucking company can get (fair priced) insurance to train and hire new drivers from Canada.

I was told that any APTA member willing to pay TFWs $24.50 per hour or the average wage in Canada can still bring in all the offshore truck drivers they want

The APTA needs to understand that unless they are willing to pay higher wages that no TFWs should be allowed in to drive their trucks. The only thing the APTA trucking companies understand is when they have trucks parked. Then they will raise truck driver pay to keep drivers in the truck.

Truck drivers will be taken out of the unskilled category when the wage cover the skills required. I talked to 2 truck drivers today that just got hired to do landscaping in Toronto as the wages were over $25.00 per hour and they would have to go out west to make $1,600 per week to drive truck.

Many of the shippers do not seam to understand that truck drivers are treated with respect, people will keep leaving the industry. The goverment need do not allow large companies to fine or black list shippers or trucking companies or truck drivers until the truck driver shortage disappears

Many of the shippers do not seam to understand that until truck drivers are treated with respect, people will keep leaving the industry. The goverment need do not allow large companies to fine or black list shippers or trucking companies or truck drivers until the truck driver shortage disappears

Many companies now have trucks parked. Some shippers are now asking about a possible shortage this fall and and pushing the goverment to bring in more foreign truck drivers. Many truck drivers are doing other jobs after being blacklisted by companies like loblaws or walmart.

Wages need to go up or young people will not come into trucking.

i drove when it was 36 cents a mile now its only 3 cents more and thats 15 years later

i miss being on the open road but i dont miss the empty bank acct and having to constantly get comcheques just to eat and get the ten dollar shower. i was given 24 hours only to get from toronto to calgary as that was the norm with that company no matter how i did it. i hope things have changed these days as that was soo dangerous. i remember phoning a dispatcher at home asking him if i woke him up, when he got mad and said yes i replied i wish i knew what sleep was since i had been awake on that trip for 53 hours. i asked him if i could trade jobs with him so i could experience a comfy bed and 8 hour shift with hour for lunch.

in my spare time i used to repair transports and one day a transport rolled in and was having brake issues it was two blown seals. i replaced them and cleaned shoes off and put new hardware on and noticed the trailer had the maxi brake pot welded to the bracket using a threaded bolt because the brackets steel was missing. it wasnt aligned properly so i showed the driver and he said most of the companies trucks are repaired that way.i would have put new shoes on when i replaced the seals but the company boss said he refused to buy new shoes so i had to clean them off real good and put them back on.. they had lots of lining they were just soaked with 80/90 so i got 90% of it off. on a normal shift i did approx 30 wheel seals on top of the clutch setting on every other truck that came in. i asked the driver when the last time he checked the hubs for 80/90 and he said the circle check wasnt a requirement at his company so i insisted its important as its his own safety and the safety of everyone else on the highway to make sure the wheels dont blow off and he was shocked that it was possible for that to even happen. i seen him a few weeks later and he happily told me he checks every trailer he gets for 80/90 and rests easier knowing a full circle check is done and showed me his logs where he ticked stuff off as he checked it. the message in my story is just because your company doesnt take safety serious doesnt mean you have to follow suit.. be responsible out there to keep you and everyone else safe too. gawd i miss being on the highway.

in a responce to your story on wages i wish i made 55 grand when i drove transport. that would be 35 thousand more than what i got paid and i only slept in my bed at home for 4 days a month. id love to know what company that is that pays 55 grand as ill sign right up right of course talking about a company driver not owner op.

take mr kenney on a transport ride and tell him he can sleep only after driving for 13 hours and loading and unloading in minus 54 celcius and first he has to go to college to get his certificate and pass his circle check and road test without anyone holding his hand then go with an experienced driver to prove he doesnt wear out a clutch and grind gears. first trip send him through the coke in winter pay to see that.

To begin with, as others have said, when you factor in all the hours you have to work,the pay is about 15 per hour. No overtime,shorted stat pay and a culture of disrespect. These TFW's do not stay in the Atlantic provinces. They haul to terminals across Canada. When their time is up, they transition to provincial nominee program and stay permanently. They then move to the big centers and boom! the maritimes are short drivers again. NEVER ENDING CYCLE! In the US, which has no such programs, wages are climbing. What does this tell you? the TFW program is suppressing wages. Trucking companies start paying for everything your drivers do and start paying legally according to all labour laws and maybe you'll have more people entering the industry.

mr kenney was after a penny and thought truckin was the way to go, until one day he realized that truckin was REAL work and said oh my god NO.