The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has submitted its wish list for the coming federal budget, touching on themes of compliance, fuel costs, labor, and infrastructure.
Topping the list is its ongoing call for a crackdown on the Driver Inc. business model that involves misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
“To ignore Driver Inc. is to ignore Tax and Labour Code violations in the single largest job class the federal government has jurisdiction over,” the alliance says. “Combating tax evasion and protecting workers rights are key points that appear in federal mandate letters.”
The CTA also says enforcement data indicates that Driver Inc. carriers are involved in widespread Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) fraud. And it notes there is “growing speculation” that some of the Driver Inc. fleets are used by various levels of government through transportation contracts.
Also included in the list is a call to cap the carbon price at diesel fuel, to help the industry recover from the pandemic and stimulate innovation in green technology. And it recommends a commercial vehicle incentive fund to focus carbon tax revenues collected from the industry.
“CTA struggles to see any policy rationale for the carbon price on heavy trucks,” it adds, noting that carbon pricing should offer incentives to purchase mandatory carbon-reducing equipment.
The need to offset a labor shortage is addressed as well.
“Covid-19 not changed the long-term labor demands of our aging sector. In fact, it has only served to make things worse by unexpectedly accelerating retirements and slowing the rate of new entrants,” CTA says.
“Trucking has been excluded from many funding programs, such as those aimed at the skilled trades. Trucking directly competes for labor with many of these industries and it is time the sector receives equal access and support.”
Steps to develop national entry-level drive training standards are also increasing training costs, it notes.
Touching on another path to access truck drivers, CTA has asked for more screening measures under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), limiting access to safe and compliant carriers.
Wrapping up the federal budget wish list is a call to support key infrastructure projects to facilitate trade.
“Well-maintained bridges, highways and interchanges, border crossings, and adequate access to major freight centres are of the utmost importance to the industry and government needs to recognize the essential role trucking plays as it sets infrastructure spending priorities,” CTA says.
The federal government has yet to say when it will table the 2021 budget. A 2020 budget was canceled as Covid-19 began to emerge.