Northern MPP urges province to address truck driver shortage amid rising insurance costs
TIMMINS – People in Ontario’s trucking industry believe that if the issues that cause small trucking companies to shut down and keep drivers from working are complicated, the impact is clear and serious.
At the heart of the problem are soaring insurance costs, as Debbie Paquin, who co-owns her family business in Hearst, said of her problems insuring her son as a driver at a press conference virtual Thursday.
“From May 31 to June 1, (insurance) jumped 132%,” Paquin said. “No fines, nothing at all. I’m paying over $ 15,000 to get him insured.”
Mushkegowuk-Baie James MLA, Guy Bourgouin, hosted the meeting, inviting other drivers, business owners and the President of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada to talk about their driver hiring issues. – and recruitment – because of insurance costs.
He said it was causing a crisis in the industry.
“The industry is experiencing a shortage of trucks (drivers) and it’s affecting the entire industry in Northern Ontario – and it’s not unique to Northern Ontario, by the way, it’s all. province, ”said Bourgouin.
Regarding the cause of the problems, speakers said the cost of insuring a new driver in a small business is high, in part due to inexperience, increased collisions and lack of of conductors in industry.
To this end, they said that even seasoned drivers from large companies cannot be hired at a local small business because insurance companies do not accept industry logbooks as proof of employment, even if they are accepted for tax purposes. This means that people can be considered new drivers even if they have been working for years.
This adds to the industry’s driver shortage, Bourgouin said, as small businesses cannot afford these bonuses.
That’s why he brought forward a motion in Queen’s Park calling on the province to tackle the problem – which passed, signifying a commitment to act.
But Bourgouin said it wouldn’t be an easy fix and needed a mix of solutions.
“Does it subsidize? Does it create provincial insurance for owner-operators, for trucking?” Said Bourgouin.
“These are some of the solutions that can be considered … to cut costs and say no, this is unacceptable, you are killing an industry.”
Bourgouin said the focus must now be on pushing the provincial government to act on it, before more businesses and careers are at risk.