Eleven rural and northern communities have now been selected as part of the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, which invites newcomers to make these communities their new homes.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) had lobbied for the inclusion of commercial vehicle drivers in the program and is pleased to see the occupation as part of this new program.

As the Canadian population ages and the birth rate declines, rural Canada’s workforce has seen a significant decrease in available workers, including commercial vehicle drivers. This pilot will help attract people that are needed to drive economic growth in these communities.

The participating rural and northern communities will have access to a range of support to test this new innovative, community-driven model that will help fill labour gaps. The selected communities are: Thunder Bay (ON), Sault Ste. Marie (ON), Sudbury (ON), Timmins (ON), North Bay (ON), Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee (MB), Brandon (MB), Moose Jaw (SK), Claresholm (AB), West Kootenay (BC), and Vernon (BC).

“We embrace the announcement of this pilot supporting West Kootenay communities. We are determined to see our local businesses succeed and this is a major step for all stakeholders,” said Doug Sutherland of Sutco Transportation Specialists.  “As baby boomers leave the transportation industry, a gap is being created that our local labour pool cannot sufficiently fill.  For many organizations, filling these gaps helps grow and create more opportunities for locals looking for other positions.

For our team members, we are committed to transporting community products to market as well as transporting essential product to our communities.  This program will definitely support these commitments for the long term.”

In the past, Sutco has had success hiring drivers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, says Sutherland.  However, he adds, this new Rural Immigration program is geared towards bringing in workers to remain as long-term employees and community members.

The federal government has stated that the participating communities were selected as a representative sample of the regions across Canada to assist in laying out the blueprint for the rest of the country.

To complement the Rural and Northern Pilot, Canada is also working with the territories to address the unique immigration needs in Canada’s North.

“This program is really driven by partners at the local level,” said Jonathan Blackham, CTA director, Policy and Public Affairs. “This means, if there is a need for drivers in one of the selected areas, it will be important for the local trucking association to work with local carriers and community support groups to utilize of this new program.”

The government will begin working with communities this summer to help them identify candidates for permanent residence as early as this fall. The first newcomers under the pilot are expected to arrive in 2020.

“It’s our hope that this program’s success will evolve a permanent program, which will allow all qualifying Canadian fleets, regardless of location, to attract truck drivers from overseas to become Canadian citizens employed in the trucking industry,” said Blackham.

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