As Quebec transportation companies denounce the “unfair competition” on our roads by underpaid Ontario drivers, The newspaper went to meet these precarious workers who often pay the price of this race for profit.
Last May, Le Journal reported that these “disguised employees” in Ontario, costing up to 40% less, are disrupting the industry.
However, according to Daniel Bérard, President of Danfreight Systems (DFS), whose turnover exceeds $100 million, the situation has worsened.
Ottawa ‘sitting on his steak’
“There is an invasion of companies in Ontario,” begins the shareholder of DFS. “The federal government is sitting on its steak,” he sighs.
What shocks Daniel Bérard: While he pays a good six million annual benefits, his Ontario competitors are recruiting discount truckers “Chauffeurs inc. to avoid paying the fees.
Basically, there are those who are really self-employed and own their own truck, and others who call themselves “Chauffeurs eV”. who actually work for a transport company.
“‘Chauffeur Inc.’ is a fraudulent scheme that exempts road hauliers from the obligation to pay their taxes and withholdings,” estimates the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CCA).
Photo Francis Halin
Amrik Singh Brainch, a Quebec trucker who delivers meals to Chauffeurs Inc. ontario.
“Easy to use”
Sick leave, paid vacation, overtime… Not only are truckers penalized, but “more than $1 billion in tax revenue is being siphoned through the system,” according to the ACC.
“Often new immigrants are easily exploited,” observes Omar Burgan, director of research at Teamsters Canada, which represents about 50,000 professional drivers in the country.
“They get rich on the backs of the workers. It has neither a head nor a tail,” breathes Marcel Massé, deputy director of the union’s transport department.
In the last few days, Le Journal caught up with Laval trucker Amrik Singh Brainch, owner of his truck in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, who comes to the rescue of these Ontario drivers on our roads every day.
He told the Journal that when he and his mechanic son help out these drivers, he often encounters workers with empty stomachs. To help them, they prepare meals for them for free.
“More than 75% of the time they visit us they don’t have food so I’m proud to bring it to them. It’s a question of humanity,” says Amrik Singh Brainch, teary-eyed.
“There is also the problem of the toilets. Many companies even prevent them from using their toilets,” he adds.
According to Attar Singh Sodhi, a Chauffeur Inc. member of the support group Naujawan Support Network, these workers are being exploited.
“We can’t ask for overtime, even if we’re driving 13 or 16 hours straight,” denounces the Brompton trucker, who has been on the roads of Quebec for the past seven years. We have many drivers who do not dare to resign because their boss would otherwise refuse to give them their last paycheck,” he even says.
For Marc Cadieux, CEO of the Quebec Trucking Association and Quebec Vice President of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the situation is serious.
“Right now it’s the weakest who gets caught, but not the strategist. With the Commission on Equality and Safety at Work Standards (CNESST), it’s the strategist who gets caught,” he says.
In recent days, CNESST confirmed to the Journal that checks had taken place but refused to say how much money was being recovered.
Revenu Québec said it is “aware of the situation of registered drivers and is working with the relevant authorities on this issue.”
We at the Canada Revenue Agency are responding by hosting webinars and raising awareness to encourage businesses to comply with tax laws.
“Regarding the amounts recovered, the agency does not provide results by specific sectors,” concluded its spokeswoman Nina Ioussoupova.
Ottawa can’t say everything
At Employment and Social Development Canada we say we “cannot release any information about any inspection or investigation or the results of any activities conducted under the Code, including the specific number of investigators”.
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