Punjabi’s “Dominating” Canadian Trucking And Will Soon Be Majority In California
Little Rock, Arkansas – Perhaps the fastest growing population of truck drivers in North America are Indian-Americans who practice the Sikh faith. In fact, the North American Punjabi Trucking Association (NAPTA) estimates that Sikhs control about 40% of trucking in California and have become the clear majority in Canada. (Sikhism is closely associated with Punjab, a region that straddles India and Pakistan).
According to a recent report in the Economist, Gurinder Singh Khalsa, the chairman of Sikhs PAC, a Sikh political organization, says there are approximately 150,000 Sikhs in trucking, 90% of whom are drivers. Those numbers are growing rapidly, with 30,000 Sikhs entering the industry in the last two years.
Punjabi’s “Control” Canadian Trucking
The Punjabi community has emerged as the clear majority of the Canadian trucking industry. Industry experts now estimate that about 60% of the Canadian trucking industry is controlled by people of Punjabis origin.
Nachattar Singh Chohan is the founder and president of the Indian Trucking Association of Canada and he recently told dailysikhupdates.com, “We Punjabis control more than 60% of all trucking operations in Canada.”
“There is a perpetual shortage of truck drivers and mechanics and new Punjabi immigrants fill this need,” said Chohan who came to Canada in 1980 from Budhi Pind near Hoshiarpur in Punjab.
Chohan, who came to Canada to find a better life, said, “Punjabis are famous for one thing if one starts something, everyone follows him. That’s how they have entered the trucking business here and virtually taken over it.” Chohan operates his own fleet of truck-trailers under the name of CH TransX.
Chohan said the biggest factor for the mass migration into the Canadian trucking industry is simply the ability to make money quickly. “Punjabi immigrants come to Canada to make money and to make it fast,” he said. Chohan said the opportunity to make $4,000-5,000 per month is too good for many Punjabi’s to pass up. “I have drivers who make even up to $7,000 a month,” he said.
“The growth of the trucking industry around the Punjabi community has also fostered a sense of identity and togetherness among our people,” Chohan also told the news outlet.
Chohan says Canada would do well to have more Punjabis behind the wheel and growing trucking businesses. He says he’s proud of the contribution his community is making to the Canadian way of life. “We have created thousands of jobs for Canada,” he said.
Going Too Far To Recruit Punjabi’s Into Trucking?
It’s no secret recruiters in the trucking industry have been known to stretch the truth a bit to land their next recruit, but some are wondering if the portrayal of the trucking lifestyle in the Punjabi community is going too far. In a report we filed back in November, we asked the question if those in the Punjabi community were overselling the promises of fortune that can be attained in the trucking industry. Videos like the one from British recording artist and producer Surjit Khan.
His video for the song, “Truck Union,” has been watched more than 2.5 million times on YouTube alone. It portrays a trucking career as a glamorous lifestyle and leading to a life of luxury.
Trucking veteran of more than a decade, Mintu Pandher, featured in a CBS Evening News report last year on the rise of Sikhs in trucking, said he believes flashy portrayals like the one presented by Khan is not going too far. Mr. Pandher told CBS, “I mean the presentation can be a little eye-catchy, but you know that’s the reality.”
Further illustrating the allure of trucking to the Punjabi community is the recent success of a YouTube vlogger going by the name of Punjabi Vlogger. He posted a vlog highlighting the Canadian trucking experience back in April of 2018. The vlog exploded in popularity and has more than 2.2 million views to date.
Debate Intensifying Over New Proposal To Import More Immigrant Drivers Into Canada
A new proposal by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) to begin a pilot program that would import immigrant drivers into Canada to help satisfy the need for more truckers is drawing sharp criticism.
Teamster’s Canada, the country’s largest transportation union, is pushing back on the OTA’s proposal calling it an horrific idea. “Trucking companies can’t move overseas, so they’re trying to bring cheap labor to Canada,” François Laporte, the president of Teamsters Canada, said in a news release. “Instead of trying to suppress wage growth, the Ontario Trucking Association should be looking at ways to give truckers a big raise.”
In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Canada, president of the Ontario Trucking Association, Stephen Laskowski, made the case for the need to import immigrant labor. “The driver shortage became more acute in 2018 due to the fact that we have a large percentage of individuals over the age of 55 driving… we’re facing older demographics, more retirements and, at the same time, more demand,” said Laskowski, who is also the president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).
According to a 2016 study conducted by the Trucking Alliance of Canada, the industry will be short 34,000 drivers by 2024. “It’s only expected it to get worse in 2019. This is an issue from a supply-chain perspective and we need to find a solution to it,” Laskowski warned.
The immigration policy debate is also roiling the U.S. as the federal government remains partially shutdown due to disagreement in Congress about the funding for a southern border wall. These debates around smart immigration policy aren’t going to subside any time soon. Read the full report on this debate HERE.
Featured image shared courtesy of the Punjabi Vlogger/YouTube.