A new program in Ontario is hoping to reduce the barriers facing certain groups when it comes to entering the trucking industry.
On June 27, the Ontario government announced a $1.3 million investment in the Bridging the Gaps in Trucking program, to provide training to “women, newcomers and others from underrepresented groups” looking to join the trucking industry.
The goal of the project – which is coordinated by the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada – is to provide 54 participants with up to 200 hours of training. Participants will train to obtain a license to operate either a tractor-trailer or straight truck.
According to data from the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, just 4.3% of all Canadian drivers are women. The government says only 2% of truckers in the province are women, a number Premier Doug Ford says they’d like to see climb.
“This innovative program will help break down barriers to attract more women into the trucking industry,” Ford said in a statement. “As we build Ontario, we’re going to need all hands on deck. That’s why our government is working hard to ensure that all skilled occupations are more accessible and welcoming for women and all under-represented groups.”
One way the province is working to remove those barriers is by providing up to $4,500 in reimbursements for childcare and other living expenses. Participants in the program are eligible for up to $1,000 for transportation and childcare support, $300 for equipment and a $400 weekly allowance.
In addition to covering the skills necessary to earn their license, the training program will also cover forklift operation, defensive driving, workplace violence and harassment, and human trafficking awareness. Upon completion, the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada will work with graduates to help ensure job placement.
“Truckers are the everyday heroes who keep the wheels of our economy turning, and we need to ensure more people have a chance to explore these purpose-driven careers,” Monte McNaughton, minister of labor, immigration, training and skills development, said in a statement. “I was proud to make Ontario the first province in Canada to guarantee truckers the right to access washrooms, and our government will continue to invest in training to ensure everyone in our community gets a shot at earning bigger paychecks for themselves and their families.”
According to the Ontario government, around 6,100 truckers are needed to fill job vacancies across the province. The first round of in-person training for the project started on July 1.