Fleets applaud Nova Scotia move on driver recruitment

HALIFAX, N.S. - Fleets are welcoming Nova Scotia's decision to stop accepting transport truck driver (NOC 7511) applications under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP).

The province announced the change recently. It is now urging carriers to use the Nova Scotia Nominee Program's Occupations-in-Demand stream to bring in drivers from abroad. "In the past year, we have received feedback from the trucking industry that this stream has proven to be successful in supporting their efforts to recruit and retain foreign national transport truck drivers.

So, we made the change," said Natalie Webster, communications director at Nova Scotia Immigration. She said 189 NOC 7511 applications had been processed last year. "We encourage employers in the trucking sector to utilize this unique stream, which is dedicated to transport truck drivers."

Fleets applaud Nova Scotia move on driver recruitmentClarke Road Transport and other fleets say the decision will help retain drivers. (Photo: Clarke)

Driver retention

Carriers have welcomed the move, saying it will help with driver retention.

They say fleets like the Provincial Nominee Program better than the Atlantic Immigration Pilot because there is no retention with the AIPP. They point out that under the AIPP, drivers get their PR a lot faster, and then decide to leave the province. "The Occupations-in-Demand stream is helping us to retain TFWs (temporary foreign workers) for the long-term, and allow us to better assist them to settle permanently in Nova Scotia," said Ryan Gray, recruitment manager at Clarke Road Transport, a division of Laidlaw Carriers Van.

Gray, however, stressed that Clarke still hires a lot of new drivers from within Canada. "We don't want people to get the impression that we don't still try to hire Canadians. But even with hiring like 10 or 15 new graduates a year is not enough".

Not enough because the demand for drivers, especially for longhaul truckers, in Nova Scotia remains pretty high. Gray said Clarke has 20-25 applications in various stages of process.

"It is our hope that the sponsored individuals and their families grow stronger roots to the Halifax community, so that there is more of a reason to stay within our province."

- Geoff Dowe, director of operations, GTL Transportation

Another Nova Scotia fleet actively hiring drivers is GTL Transportation. "We are starting to use the OID in a continuing effort to help fulfill our current and future requirements for longhaul truck drivers," said Geoff Dowe, director of operations at GTL.

"It is our hope, along with the government, that the sponsored individuals and their families grow stronger roots to the Halifax community, so that there is more of a reason to stay within our province," he said.

AIPP being extended

The AIPP was launched in 2017 to meet rising labor shortages in a number of industries in the Atlantic provinces.

Since then, nearly 6,700 immigrants have become permanent residents through the program, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Fleets applaud Nova Scotia move on driver recruitment

IRCC said in an email to Today's Trucking that the AIPP is being extended by two years to December 2021.

"In addition, given the success of this flagship regional economic program, the government has committed to taking steps toward making the pilot permanent," the federal agency said.

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