Since the transition of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) from its National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2016 system to an updated 2021 version on 16 November 2022, bus and truck drivers can be Express Entry candidates.
16 occupations are made eligible for Express Entry by IRCC as part of this transition to NOC 2021. Transport truck drivers and bus drivers are two occupations that are pressured by significant labour shortages across Canada.
Shortage of School Bus Drivers in Canada
Canada has dealt with a lack of school bus drivers in several parts of the country for a very long period within the busing industry. Across the country, many communities are struggling to find transportation for students due to such factors as “a rash of retirements during the pandemic” and low wages for instance.
The cancellation of much-anticipated events for students across Canada, for example, is caused by the employment shortages in this industry, such as the cross-country meet of 8000 students organized last October by one Catholic School Board in London, Ontario. A school bus driver shortage in Montreal forced the cancellation of bus routes in October 2022 as reported by Global News; a similar outcome as what happened to one Yellowknife’s community in the first week of 2023.
As one Transport Canada news release estimated back in July 2022, for many children across the country, transportation via school buses is essential. 2.2 million Children in this country “travel to and from school every day”. Therefore, due to labour shortages in this industry, lives of many young Canadians are significantly impacted, who rely on these methods to get to and from school daily.
The Shortage of Truck Drivers in Canada
Across Canada, truck driving is essential for the progression of the national supply chain. There were 18,000 vacancies in this sector in 2021 and in 2022, the number has only risen to 20,110. Due to disruptions and labour shortages, the national economy was very much affected.
On yearly basis, it is estimated that over 34,000 truck drivers will leave the industry, due to issues ranging from high upfront training costs and safety concerns. In the year 2021, the job vacancy rate was 9.2% in the trucking industry. This means if nationwide labour shortages continue to rise, the trucking industry will continue to hinder the Canadian economy.
In the transportation industry, changes in Express Entry aimed at reducing shortages
With the help of Express Entry to reduce labour shortages, IRCC has added transport truck drivers and bus drivers to the list of occupations eligible to migrate to Canada. The Government of Canada remains hopeful that along with other changes to Express Entry such as targeted draws, this expansion to the eligibility of Express Entry will drive more foreign nationals, especially skilled workers who are best able to fill the most pressing labour gaps of the country toward Canadian immigration in the future.
Note: IRCC is allowed to conduct Express Entry draws that place less priority on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of a candidate and instead seek out prospective immigrants based on specific attributes such as language proficiency, educational backgrounds, or work experience. As Canada gets closer to implementing the new procedure, further details regarding the specifics of targeted Express Entry draws will become available.
Other Immigration Options for Foreign Bus and Truck Drivers in Canada
Apart of Express Entry, foreign nationals looking to come to Canada have various immigration options. Pathways like Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are included in the options, which are operated in 11 of the country’s 13 total provinces and territories (excluding Nunavut and Quebec) as well as Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) and the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP).
Many programs across the country including the above programs, permit every region in which these programs operate to selectively choose foreign workers that the local government thinks would best help to address the requirements of the local labour market. If a prospective immigrant were to apply to a program operated in a region that had a particularly large labour gap in the busing or trucking industry in the case of bus and/or truck driving accordingly, they would be positioning themselves well to possible immigrate to that area and work locally as a truck or bus driver.