VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Following a bombshell investigation by the Globe and Mail, the trucking industry will be scrutinized by both the federal government and the province.
The reporting raises serious safety concerns about inexperienced drivers and the exploitation of foreign workers. The Globe details how trucking companies, working with immigration consultants, took cash payoffs from foreign recruits, then put those newcomers behind the wheels of big trucks on dangerous Canadian roads, with no experience and no training.
People are dying, but the government keeps handing out temporary foreign worker permits to trucking companies with serious violations on their records including the exploitation of workers.
“This isn’t something that’s new to the industry,” Shelley Uvanile-Hesche, the CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, says of the claims. “Drivers have been aware of that for quite some time.”
She stresses the importance of experience behind the wheel on Canadian roads and says new drivers are too often put on the roads without adequate training and education.
“The fact that we have drivers that can’t read or write English or French — our two main languages — is another area of concern,” Uvanile-Hesche tells NEWS 1130. “I don’t believe that that boils down to racism, that boils down to public safety.”
Deadly, dangerous and downright exploitative – the province and feds promise action after a Globe and Mail investigation shows how trucking companies are making money while putting you at risk. on @NEWS1130 this morning.
— Ash Kelly (@AshDKelly) October 7, 2019
The Globe and Mail has outlined the risks these trucking companies are subjecting people and drivers to.
“You have to remember, in most cases, a driver is responsible for 80,000 lbs minimum, is the payload usually in the trailer,” Uvanile-Hesche explains. Throw that load in with speed, dangerous curves, bends, and hills, she says anyone without the proper experience won’t be able to safely stay on the road.
In Ontario, there is mandatory entry-level training for truck drivers. While she admits it’s not perfect, Uvanile-Hesche hopes it’ll be the start of improving driver training and requirements.
The federal department in charge of the foreign worker program has said it will look into all allegation of abuse, but it’s the provinces that are responsible for training and safety standards in that industry.
B.C.’s transportation minister, Claire Trevena, says the province is working on mandatory minimum training, which most other provinces already have. She’s also promised to conduct a sweeping review of the industry.
It was just last year that 16 people were killed and 13 others were hurt in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan. In April of 2018, an inexperienced trucker blew through a stop sign, into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus at a rural intersection. The driver was sentenced to eight years in prison for 29 counts of dangerous driving causing death or bodily harm.
Since the crash, there have been a number of calls for safety measures to be enforced in the trucking industry, as well as on buses.