Driver Inc., safety concerns of pregnant truck drivers and support for environmental initiatives were the topics when Quebec Trucking Association (ACQ) leader Marc Cadieux met recently with federal Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez.
Regarding Driver Inc., a scheme in which some carriers misclassify drivers as independent contractors, Cadieux reiterated the urgency of acting vigorously to put a stop to the practice.
“We reminded Minister Rodriguez that this scheme deprives the government of millions of dollars in social contributions from employers. There are also government agencies that are deprived of significant royalties,” Cadieux said afterwards, in an interview with Transport Routier.
He estimated that over 12 years in Quebec alone, the Driver Inc. scheme deprived government coffers of approximately $2 billion.
“On the ground, the industry does not feel that the government is acting, even though funds have been released – $26.3 million over five years – and work teams have been formed,” Cadieux said. “We must show the industry that the government is taking action and that the scheme can no longer work without those who use it suffering the consequences.”
The ACQ has also taken steps to have the legislation amended to prevent Driver Inc.
“I informed Mr. Rodriguez that we have submitted a comprehensive document, prepared by our office in collaboration with tax law experts, with a view to requesting modifications that would allow the various authorities to have the necessary legislative powers to audit companies suspected of using the scheme,” Cadieux said.
Supporting pregnant truckers
The protection of pregnant truckers under federal jurisdiction was the second point of discussion between Cadieux and Rodriguez.
In Quebec, the CNESST program For Safe Maternity allows pregnant women to request preventive withdrawal if necessary and receive 90% of their salary. However, at the federal level, such a program does not exist and pregnant truckers are only entitled to employment insurance benefits, which allow them to receive only 50% of their salary.
“There is a great disparity between the Quebec system and the federal system. And the vast majority of our members are under federal jurisdiction. The preventive withdrawal permitted by the CNESST program is not at all provided for in the Canada Labor Code…This is certainly not the right approach to attracting women behind the wheel of trucks,” contended Cadieux.
The ACQ asks the federal government to adopt regulations that reflect the provincial CNESST program.
Help going green
The third point of discussion touched on the green shift that the trucking industry must continue to take, and more specifically the government’s financial assistance that will be necessary to set up supply networks.
“Our industry wants to go green, however, there are realities that we are faced with. Because the green shift involves the use of various energies, it will be necessary to set up networks that will allow trucks to obtain supplies,” Cadieux said.
“The government must support us much more significantly in the installation and management of vehicles and infrastructure that will allow us to switch to alternative energies. In Quebec, we are fortunate to have programs like Écocamionnage, but the government must also start investing in the country’s refueling networks and infrastructure. Otherwise, even if we have the desire, we will not have the power to go green, at least not to the level we want.”
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