MONTREAL, Que. — The day the pandemic was declared, the trucking industry’s longstanding concern about a labor shortage was suddenly relegated to the background. However, finding workers in the skilled trades remains a challenge — particularly in remote areas.
“In the skilled trades, the situation cannot be resolved,” RM Recrutement International’s William Gobeil said in a webinar hosted by the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA). “Welders and mechanics remain in high demand, and workers who are unemployed do not necessarily have the qualifications for these positions.”
William Gobeil of RM Recrutment International expects labor shortages to return next winter. (Photo: RM Recrutement International)
Most of those people unemployed during Covid-19 are temporary layoffs and are part of corporate plans to recall workers, he said. And any efforts to recruit temporary foreign workers will also require long-term planning.
“Perhaps today the need is not there. However, we anticipate that next winter we will have manpower needs. Now is the time to think about it. These problems cannot be solved in just a few weeks with foreign workers. The delays are much longer,” he added.
Meanwhile, the timelines for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) – used to prove that a temporary foreign worker is filling a job that can’t be filled by a Canadian or permanent resident — have also been extended.
“LMIAs are now valid for nine months rather than six months,” Gobeil explained, referring to delays that have been granted because of factors like pandemic-related travel constraints. “Once your LMIA is issued and approved, the worker now has nine months to obtain his (work) permit and report to work.
“If the constraints continue, certainly the LMIAs will also be extended.”
Those involved in such programs might also expect an increase in processing times, among other factors.
For the moment, temporary foreign workers have to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival, Gobeil added. In addition to ensuring the workers have access to a dwelling when they arrive, employers will also be responsible for ensuring that there is someone to bring the workers groceries and other supplies.
The foreign workers will also need to be paid during their quarantine periods. Once on the job, they’ll need to be trained in new workplace procedures like social distancing measures, too.
Steve Bouchard started writing about trucks over 20 years ago, making him by far the most experienced trucking journalist in Quebec. Steve is the editor of Quebec’s leading French-language trucking magazine, Transport Routier, published by Newcom Média Québec since its creation in 2000. He is also editor of the associated website transportroutier.ca, and a contributor to Today’s Trucking and Trucknews.com.