Indentured Servitude in Trucking

By: G. Ray GOMPF, CD

Indentured servitude seems to be alive and well in Canada and like it or not, our immigration laws with loopholes big enough to have tractor trailers driven through are not just exacerbating the problem but actually causing it.

A few years ago, there was a situation where a totally inexperienced immigrant drove a set of B Trains into a bus now famously referred to as the Humboldt Crash. No need to go into details but the inexperienced immigrant became the scapegoat and served prison time and deportation was part of the punishment. The employer was marginally punished but effectively never missed a beat.

There was a big hue and cry from industry, governments, and the general public to tighten training requirements, creating Minimum Entry Level Training (MELT). MELT’s objective was that every commercial driver would be permitted to drive only with proper and adequate training for whatever type of equipment that driver was expected to drive along with whatever load.  We know now that MELT was oversold and underdelivered. Those of us who got our experience over the span of a career knew it was a program that gave politicians a good feeling yet did little to solve the problem of having not just inexperienced drivers on the road but “drivers” who hadn’t been exposed to training period.

MELT was supposed to get rid of those truck training establishments that didn’t provide adequate training but gave the new “driver” a degree of confidence they shouldn’t have had. We know that didn’t work either.

Not more than a decade ago, the incident of collisions involving big trucks was around 6,000 in all of Canada with clearly the overwhelming majority not attributable to the truck driver.  Today, there is some 26,000 wrecks in Ontario alone but only along the Ontario Provincial Police patrolled highways, with the overwhelming majority fully attributable to the truck driver.

To say something has gone wrong would be a colossal understatement.

Government officials, when queried, say “there are many more trucks on the road” but quite frankly ten years ago there were 300,000 trucks moving freight on our highways and today there are still only 300,000 trucks. Where are the more trucks? The difference is that now there are 100,000 recent immigrant truck drivers and no one wants to acknowledge that fact.

Now it’s difficult to bring the cause of this incredible skyrocketing of wrecks to the immigrant community but those of us that see wreck after wreck on the highway know that immigrants are a large portion of the carnage. In not suggesting ethnicity is a factor because I truly don’t believe ethnicity plays much of a role with skill. I believe it’s the immigration loop holes through which the unscrupulous take advantage of Canada’s reputation of acceptance.

What seems to be happening is some immoral individuals bring immigrants to Canada on various visa programs only to trap them as indentured servants requiring years of labour to pay off the indenture. Indentured servitude is just a dress up term for slavery. These dishonest owners hold their indentured servants under a cloud of fear. They use misinformation to keep them in fear, consequently the indentured servant never gets to know they have options, that they’re being actually illegally held against their will.

Embarrassment keeps the indentured silent so the crooked can operate freely. Then they hide the criminal act of indenturing servants under terms like human trafficking so the general public can’t even imagine the depths of deprivation some of our citizens will stoop to make money on the backs of immigrants who are only longing for a better life. These human traffickers must be routed out and punished to the fullest.

Now a great many questions need to be answered:

  • Are any of these immigration methods actually approved by our immigration department?
  • Are the credentials (driver’s license) for those indentured real or are they forged?
  • If they’re forged, how do the many authorities that would have reason to check credentials miss them?
  • Should the RCMP or our immigration department investigate a little more closely?
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