Inside Logistics

Federal labour standards may harm small business: CFIB

New 96-hour scheduling provision will hit trucking hard, federation says

August 30, 2019

TORONTO – Small businesses in federally regulated sectors such as transportation, grain elevators, feed and seed mills, and telecommunications are facing massive changes to federal labour standard changes that will impede their ability to stay competitive and potentially hamstring the economy as a whole, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

As of September 1, businesses in federally regulated industries will have to provide employees with 96-hours’ written notice of schedules and 24-hours’ notice of shift changes among other changes.

“The federal government is trying to apply a one-size-fits-all, 9-to-5 business model to industries where that just doesn’t work,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly.

“Our trucking members in particular have been clear that these labour standard changes will be devastating. They are facing significant labour shortages and are doing what they can to attract and retain qualified workers. Business owners already know that a good work-life balance is essential to keeping their employees.”

Certain federally regulated businesses, including the transportation sector, run on a 24/7, continuous operation model, which allows Canadian goods to be shipped quickly and efficiently. As a result, many trucking companies do not know what loads will need to be delivered until the day before, making it impossible to give drivers 96-hours’ notice.

“Many of these new rules were borrowed from a failed set of labour law changes in Ontario, which have since been repealed. We are concerned about the speed with which these new standards are coming into effect,” added Kelly.

“While some, such as truckers, have a temporary reprieve until 2020, many businesses don’t even know that this is coming their way next week and have not had the time to prepare so they can be compliant. CFIB is also worried that these new rules may set precedents to be used by unions to promote similar harmful changes for provincially regulated industries.”

The new rules also come with additional red tape for businesses that operate across provincial borders and will hurt their ability to compete with companies in the US, potentially precluding them from making one-day and same-day deliveries, even on vital products like medical equipment.

CFIB is calling on the government to permanently exempt businesses in the transportation industry and those with fewer than 50 employees from the new standards.

“The government should be supporting more flexibility for Canada’s federally regulated industries, such as the transportation sector, not less,” concluded Kelly.

“These new rules fly in the face of recent federal efforts to lower the red tape burden on small business and CFIB urges the government to rethink them with the realities of small firms in mind.”