Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is transitioning from its National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2016 to an updated NOC 2021.
With the transition to NOC 2021, IRCC has made 16 occupations eligible for Express Entry, including transport truck and bus drivers, two occupations with significant labour shortages throughout the country.
Lack of School Bus Drivers in Canada
There have been many shortages of school bus drivers in Canada over the years. Many communities across the country are struggling to find transportation for students due to factors like low wages and a rash of retirements during the pandemic.
The shortage of employment has led to the cancellation of much-anticipated events for students across Canada like an 8000-student cross-country meet in London, Ontario last October.
In October 2022, Global News reported that due to a lack of school bus drivers, several bus routes in Montreal were forced to be canceled, a similar outcome to what occurred in one Yellowknife community in the first week of 2023 as a result of a lack of school bus drivers.
Transportation by bus is essential for many children across the country, according to a Transport Canada news release from July 2022. Young Canadians rely on these methods to get to and from school every day, so labour shortages in this industry can negatively affect their lives.
Lack of Truck Drivers in Canada
Across Canada, trucking is integral to the national supply chain. TruckingHR Canada reports that the number of vacancies in this industry has increased to 20,110 by Q2 2022 from 18,000 in Q2 2021. In times of disruption and labour shortages, the national economy suffers.
There are a number of reasons why truck drivers leave the trucking industry each year, ranging from safety concerns (and) high upfront training costs) to work-life balance and retirement. Over 34,000 truck drivers are expected to leave the trucking industry every year, according to TruckingHR Canada. In other words, if nationwide labour shortages continue to rise, the trucking industry, which has a 9.1% job vacancy rate among Transport Truck Drivers (NOC 2021: 73300) in Q2 2022, will continue to hinder the Canadian economy.
Express Entry Changes to Mitigate Transportation Labour Shortages
IRCC has added transport truck drivers and bus drivers to the list of occupations eligible for immigration to Canada via Express Entry as a measure to mitigate the above-raised labour shortages.
In the future, the Government of Canada hopes that this expansion of Express Entry eligibility, along with other improvements, such as targeted draws, will encourage more foreign nationals toward Canadian immigration, particularly skilled workers who can fill the country’s most pressing labour gaps.
Note: It is expected that targeted Express Entry draws will begin as early as Q2 2023, allowing IRCC to focus on specific target attributes, such as language skills, educational background, or work experience, rather than the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Canada will release more details regarding targeted Express Entry draws as it approaches implementation.
Immigrant Options for Truckers and Bus Drivers
Foreign nationals seeking immigration to Canada have several options beyond Express Entry.
The options include Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) in 11 of the 13 provinces and territories (excluding Quebec and Nunavut), as well as the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).
Many of these programs, as well as others across the country, allow local governments to select foreign skilled workers they consider would best address local labour shortages.
Therefore, if prospective immigrants were to apply to a program operating in an area where there is a large labour shortage in the trucking or busing industry, they would have a good chance of settling there and working locally as a driver.