The Ontario government is investing $1.3 million to prepare 54 women, newcomers and others from underrepresented groups for in-demand careers in the trucking industry. Across Ontario, at least 6,100 more truck drivers are needed to fill job vacancies and to ensure families and businesses receive goods on time and the province’s economy reaches its full potential. Only two percent of Ontario truck drivers are women, which is why the program will reimburse up to $4,500 for childcare and other living expenses.
“This innovative program will help break down barriers to attract more women into the trucking industry,” said Premier Doug Ford. “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.”
Led by the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, this free project will provide participants with up to 200 hours of training needed to obtain AZ (tractor-trailer) and DZ (straight truck) licenses. Instructors will use both virtual reality systems and in-cab, hands-on training to teach job seekers how to operate a commercial vehicle, perform manoeuvres, conduct inspections, maintain the vehicles, and understand commercial vehicle systems and controls.
“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,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “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 paycheques for themselves and their families.”
The project will also cover training for forklift operation, defensive driving, workplace violence and harassment, and human trafficking awareness. After completing the program, the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada will work with graduates to ensure they are employed as professional drivers.
“This investment in the trucking industry directly helps more people achieve fulfilling careers as professional drivers,” said Shelley Walker, CEO at Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada. “With a significant and growing skilled driver shortage facing Ontario’s trucking industry, this initiative is timely in both removing barriers to employment and supporting Ontario’s economy. We thank Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton for their leadership and support, and look forward to working with them on this incredibly important initiative.”
To remove barriers to participation, participants will be eligible to receive up to $1,000 for transportation and childcare support, $300 for equipment and a $400 weekly allowance. The first cohort of in-person training begins July 1 and will be available in Kitchener-Waterloo, the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, and London.
This project is funded through the government’s Skills Development Fund, an over $700 million initiative, which supports ground-breaking programs that connect jobseekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home.