Combatting Truck Driver Shortages: Recent Changes To Ontario’s Immigration Legislation

posted on October 23, 2019

By Mondaq |

The Ontario government has introduced changes to the Ontario Immigration Act, 2015 to include a new immigration stream for transport truck drivers, in which individuals intending to work in this occupation and live in Ontario may now qualify to apply to the province for support in obtaining permanent residence status in Canada. This is a welcome response to Canada’s long-haul truck driver shortage crisis.

Driver Shortages
The current market conditions twinned with the shortage of long-haul drivers has been causing a severe lack of capacity for the carriage of goods, increased shipping costs, and less favorable terms for Canadian shippers, importers and exporters. This crisis has been plaguing the industry in both Canada and the US for the last 15 years, and reached a new high in the US last year, accordingly to Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Association.1 Costello indicated that the US needed 60,800 more drivers than were actually available to meet the demand by the end of 2018.

There have been many discussions to determine the sources of the shortage and methods to resolve the issue. One of the main sources is that many of the current population of drivers are over 55 years old, and the population is slowly aging out of the industry and there are difficulties attracting young people.2 Other concerns include health issues, the number of days drivers spend away from home, and taxation in Canada vs. the US.3

Raising driver pay, allowing more “at-home” time, improving driver image, better treatment and reduced wait times, and creating better work-life balance are all methods that have been implemented and assisted with the issue but not fast enough.4 Educating the younger generation about the opportunities associated with a career in trucking, such as the possibility of working their way into office and management positions, and generally making specific efforts to recruit that generation have been other strategies.5

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) In-Demand Skills Stream
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) In-Demand Skills Stream was created to provide foreign nationals with a job offer, in predetermined occupations that are in-demand, the opportunity to permanently live and work in Ontario. On July 8, 2019, as part of Premier Doug Ford’s 2019 Budget, the occupation code for Transport Truck Drivers (National Occupation Classification code 7511) was added to this list of in-demand occupations. This change will now allow trucking companies to hire foreign labour, and is expected to better reflect labour needs in the province.

Foreign nationals, both within Canada and outside of Canada, can now apply to the Ontario government to be nominated for permanent residence, once they have obtained a valid job offer as a Transport Truck Driver in Ontario. The OINP In-Demand Skills Stream has specific requirements for what constitutes a job offer, and what is required for an employer and applicant to be eligible.

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