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The Canadian Trucking Alliance forecasts the industry will have a shortage of 55,000 workers by the end of this year.
Earlier this year, Ottawa committed to investing up to $46.3 million in Trucking Human Resources Canada under the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.
That organization’s Driving Economic Recovery project will provide training and wage subsidies to support the recruitment, training and on-boarding of up to 1,400 new truck drivers and 1,200 workers for other in-demand occupations within the trucking sector.
“Without truckers, groceries wouldn’t make it to the shelves of our local supermarkets and builders wouldn’t get the supplies they need,” said Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, in February when that investment was made.
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“We’re investing in Trucking HR to make sure the industry can support truckers and the workers who help them by equipping them with the training and skills they need to meet the demand we know is there.”
Canada is also bullish on immigration and the recruitment of internationally-trained truckers, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 with the code 73300, to fill these positions and resolve this labour shortage.
In April, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Canada is going to launch a new pathway this summer under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to help employers hire skilled refugees and other displaced individuals, including for trucking jobs.
“Canada is a global leader in helping skilled refugees connect with employers struggling to find workers in critical areas, while giving newcomers the opportunity to restart their careers and their lives here in Canada,” said Fraser.
“Our government will continue to develop and scale innovative immigration measures to help employers address their critical labour shortages and provide refugees with the opportunity to live in safety while rebuilding their lives.”
That was welcome news to the trucking industry whose job vacancy rate has more than tripled since 2015 and doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With an average age of 47 and rising, the sector has one of the oldest workforces, with a third of drivers over 55, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
A long-haul trucker typically spends up to 14 days at a time on the road, working 12-hour shifts, with three days off in between.
Truckers in Canada Salaries
“The average truck driver salary in Canada is $48,750 per year or $25 per hour,” reports Trucker.com based on a survey of 10,000 salaries.
“Entry-level positions start at $40,631 per year, while most experienced workers make up to $64,743 per year.”
Truck drivers are also often paid bonuses by the kilometre, enabling them to earn significantly more.
A search of the Indeed.ca job-hunting website revealed there were more than 5,161 ads for truckers, each one of them with a possible route to a Canada visa, in late May. The federal government’s Job Bank job-hunting and career-planning website pegged the number of jobs for truckers in Canada at 3,247 at that time.
Job Bank Vacancies for Truck Drivers
|Prince Edward Island
|Newfoundland & Labrador
Source: www.Job Bank.gc.ca
Foreign nationals interested in immigrating to Canada to work as truckers can begin the process by obtaining a confirmed job offer approved by immigration Canada.
Ideally, an approved job offer will be in a province that offers Canadian permanent residence under a long-haul driver pilot project.
Immigration.ca, through its in-house recruitment enterprises Skilled Worker and SkilledWorker, works on behalf of a number of employers to source qualified foreign long-haul drivers. Qualified candidates receive temporary Canadian work permits.
They can then apply for permanent residence through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Ontario, which leads the way in terms of trucking jobs available, added transport truck driver to its Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) Employer Job Offer In-Demand Skills Stream in July four year ago.
That means experienced truck drivers with a job offer in Ontario have a specific pathway to Canadian permanent residence.
Applicants must first register in the OINP’s Expression of Interest (EOI) system and receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA) before they can apply online to be nominated by the Ontario government for permanent residence.
Once nominated, the next step is to apply to the federal government through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The IRCC makes the final decision on who becomes a permanent resident.
Ontario is also one of the nine provinces participating in the EMPP, allowing refugees who have the skills and experience to work as truckers to immigrate to those provinces with a job offer.
Foreign nationals hoping to immigrate as truck drivers in Ontario can also, since mid-November last year, apply under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program. Truck driver was one of 16 occupations added to the FSW’s list of eligible occupations when the IRCC accepted the NOC 2021 classification system.
Read more on Ontario immigration.
The Canadian province with the second-greatest number of jobs for truckers is the Prairie province of Alberta with Job Bank estimating 800 vacant positions in that sector in late May.
Alberta is one of the participants in the EMPP and so refugees who are truckers can immigrate to that province under that program and get jobs in the transportation sector.
Foreign nationals can also immigrate to Alberta to take up trucking jobs through the FSW. And qualifying to do that also allows them to apply through Alberta Express Entry for permanent residence.
Temporary foreign workers already in the province in trucking jobs can also qualify through the Alberta Opportunity Stream.
Read more on Alberta immigration.
British Columbia, which had 609 vacancies for truckers on Job Bank in late May, offers permanent residence for long-haul drivers who come to Canada as refugees through the EMPP and also those who apply for permanent residence through the FSW.
Read more on British Columbia immigration.
The francophone province of Quebec, which had 344 open position for truckers in late May, operates its own immigration system and is a participant in neither the EMPP nor the FSW.
Quebec does, however, operate its own Regular Skilled Worker program for those foreign nationals who have training and professional skills that will facilitate their job integration in Quebec.
Read more on Quebec immigration.
There were 264 trucking jobs in the Prairie province of Saskatchewan in late May and its Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) has a specific Long-Haul Truck Drivers sub-category for those already working in Canada on a work permit.
The occupation also qualifies under the province’s Express Entry for truckers who qualify under the FSW and International Skilled Worker Occupation In-Demand categories.
Read more on Saskatchewan immigration.
Employers looking to hire to fill any of the 212 vacant jobs in Manitoba are advised to use either the EMPP to bring in skilled refugees or the federal Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as this Prairie province does not participate in the FSW.
The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) only permits companies to hire outside the LMIA process when specific conditions are met including recruitment efforts and in terms of the province’s labour law.
Read more on Manitoba immigration.
The Atlantic Canadian province with the most jobs available for foreign nationals hoping to come work as truckers in Canada, New Brunswick had 85 such vacancies in late May.
Internationally-trained truckers can come to Canada’s only bilingual province through the Express Entry’s FSW or, if they are refugees, through the EMPP.
The province, which used to accept applications for immigration from truckers through the New Brunswick Skilled Worker Stream, no longer does so. Instead, New Brunswick advises employers looking to hire truckers to apply through the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP).
It’s a pathway to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers and international graduates from Canadian institutions who want to work and live in any of Canada’s four Atlantic provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Read more on New Brunswick immigration.
The Nova Scotia’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) has an Occupations In-Demand stream which lists transport truck drivers as one of seven target occupations.
This gives drivers a clear pathway to permanent residence and there were 70 trucking jobs going begging for a want of qualified candidates in Nova Scotia in late May.
Refugees with the skills to be truckers can also apply under the EMPP. Foreign nationals can also apply to immigrate to Nova Scotia to work as truckers under the FSW.
Read more on Nova Scotia immigration.
Prince Edward Island
Truck drivers already working temporarily in Prince Edward Island who have at least a year of work experience qualify for permanent residence through the Critical Worker category of this Atlantic Canadian province’s PNP.
Internationally-trained truckers can also apply to immigrate to the island province through the AIP or FSW. If they are refugees, the EMPP is another option open to them.
Read more on Prince Edward Island Immigration.
Newfoundland and Labrador
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Labour Market Outlook 2025 report identifies truck driving as an occupation that will require significant immigration in order to fulfil the job vacancy demand.
Trucking companies must apply to be eligible employers for the province’s Skilled Worker, Express Entry streams and the AIP and FSW.
Foreign nationals who are refugees can work in the province as truckers through the EMPP.
Read more on Newfoundland immigration.
Trucking Industry Wages
Hourly wages for truck drivers are currently somewhat lower than the national and provincial averages.
According to Job Bank and Statistics Canada data, the median wage for truckers is below the national average by more than $7, but there is considerable variability in those truckers’ median wages which can hit $38 per hour in British Columbia.
Truck Driver Hourly Wages in Numbers
|Average hourly wage all occupations
|Newfoundland and Labrador
|Prince Edward Island
Source: www.Job Bank.gc.ca and Statistics Canada
Truck drivers are the people who drive the big rigs that bring goods to Canadians and retail outlets throughout the country.
- operate and drive straight or articulated trucks, weighing over 4600 kg with three or more axles to transport goods and material to destinations;
- oversee all aspects of vehicles, such as the condition of equipment, loading and unloading, and safety and security of cargo;
- perform pre-trip inspection of vehicle systems and equipment such as tires, lights, brakes and cold storage;
- perform emergency roadside repairs;
- obtain special permits and other documents required to transport cargo on international routes;
- record cargo information, distance travelled, fuel consumption and other information in log books or on-board computers;
- communicate with the dispatcher and other drivers using citizens’ band radio, cellular telephones and on-board computers;
- may drive as part of a two-person team or convoy, and;
- may transport hazardous products or dangerous goods.
The primary avenue for trucking companies to hire workers from overseas is through the TFWP. Qualified applicants receive a Canadian visa and, depending on the province, can transition to Canadian permanent residence.
To take the temporary worker route, an employer must first seek a positive LMIA.
Employers are encouraged to consider securing an LMIA or nomination under PNPs to ensure long term retention of employees.
Canadian employers can access immigration legal services and help with the recruitment of foreign workers through Immigration.ca’s in-house enterprises and are assisted under a fixed-fee basis for both recruitment and immigration services.
A step-by-step guide for foreign nationals looking to get a temporary work permit can be found here.