Road transport | TFI denounces a “disaster” for the industry

(Montreal) The boss of Canada’s largest trucking company says widespread misclassifications of drivers are harming companies like his as well as drivers, a problem felt even more acutely in a difficult period for the Canadian economy.

TFI International President and CEO Alain Bédard calls the phenomenon known as “chauffeur inc.” “disaster” for trucking companies, as rivals who break the rules gain a competitive advantage.

“We are losing volume because the market is soft and we face unfair competition in the case of chauffeur inc. he told analysts on a conference call Friday.

It’s a disaster we’re experiencing in Canada and no one is doing anything about it.

Alain Bédard, President and CEO of TFI International

“Chauffeur inc. » refers to the misclassification of workers as self-employed, meaning the company does not pay benefits or provide basic labor protections.

So-called contractors who drive for one company and have no control over their schedules are illegal — and risky, because workers lack basic rights such as workers’ compensation, overtime, paid leave or severance pay.

Although Ottawa has taken some steps to alleviate the problem, truckers and owners want additional measures to be taken. They say the crisis continues to deepen amid delays in implementing measures, leading to a decline in profits and worker well-being in a sector already known for razor-thin margins and grueling hours. .

“They don’t pay any benefits to their drivers,” said Mr. Bédard. The competitive advantage of “chauffeur inc. » could ease when demand picks up after a difficult year. “But it will be a long-term problem for us as long as no one in Ottawa, Quebec or Toronto does anything to fix it,” he argued.

An “education-focused approach”

Last year, the federal labor minister’s office said the government was focused on an “education-led approach to ending this discriminatory practice.”

“Employers who continue to knowingly break the law after being informed and made aware will be held accountable,” Hartley Witten, press secretary to Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan, said in an email last May.

The Quebec Trucking Association (ACQ) says it filed a memorandum last November with several ministers of the Quebec government presenting proposed legislative changes to stem the ploy. The ACQ also met the following month with the federal Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez.

According to models presented in November by the ACQ and supported by the Cain Lamarre firm, nearly 2 billion have not been paid in contributions to the Quebec state since the beginning of the phenomenon 12 years ago.

Between January 2019 and March 2020, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) audited 204 trucking companies and found that 47% of them were underreporting driver income, which can be a key indicator of misclassification.

Canadian Trucking Alliance President Stephen Laskowski praised Employment and Social Development Canada for stepping up enforcement against violators in southern Ontario over the past two years.

“It’s a race to the bottom, and it’s also widely used to mistreat newcomers to Canada,” he said of “Chauffeur Inc.” “.

Mr. Laskowski also called for higher fines and even tougher enforcement measures to deter wrongful classifications.

Last year’s federal budget included funding to amend the Canada Labor Code to improve job protections for federally regulated workers by strengthening prohibitions on employee misclassification, the spokeswoman said. Canada Revenue Agency, Hannah Wardell.

Last fall, the CRA launched the second phase of an educational campaign aimed at “personal services businesses,” a special tax classification for contractors who “would be considered an employee of the payer if not of the existence of society.

“The information collected during these two pilot phases will help guide the CRA’s future training and compliance activities,” said Wardell in an email last year.


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