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The refusaI of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to give work permits to foreign nationals already approved for Canada jobs by Quebec immigration officials is hampering trucking companies in the province.
Josyanne Pierrat, director of compliance and legal affairs at the Association du Camionnage du Québec (ACQ) trucking association, reportedly told TruckNews.com that businesses recruiting international drivers are seeing candidates approved by Quebec’s immigration department, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI), sometimes get rejected by the IRCC.
“The Gagnon-Tremblay/McDougall agreement says that Quebec can choose its candidates but this is not respected by the federal government in several cases,” Pierrat reportedly said.
“We have notified Minister of Immigration, Francisation and Integration, Christine Fréchette, of this situation. She is aware of the problem.”
Employers in the transportation industry are turning towards immigration as a recruitment strategy to fill trucking jobs going begging for a want of qualified workers to fill them.
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The province had 339 job ads for truckers, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 with the code 73300, on Job Bank, the federal government’s job-hunting and career-planning website, as July drew to a close.
In Quebec, the median hourly wage for trucking jobs is $22.08 but that varies from a low of $16 per hour right up to $30 per hour, reveals Job Bank.
Based on a standard 37.5-hour work week, that would be $58,500 at the upper end of the annual wage scale for truckers in Quebec but truck drivers are also often paid bonuses by the kilometre, enabling them to earn significantly more.
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With transportation companies desperately looking for truckers to replenish and grow their aging workforce, both the federal and provincial governments have been helping out with immigration policies to grant work permits and permanent residence to qualified foreign workers looking for these kinds of jobs in Canada.
Truck driver is now one of the 82 jobs to be targeted with new occupation-specific Express Entry draws at the federal level.
But, unlike most provinces in Canada, Quebec does not participate in the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to help employers hire skilled refugees and other displaced individuals, including for trucking jobs.
And the province, which operates its own immigration system, also does not take part in the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program which added truck driver as one of 16 occupations to its list of eligible occupations when the NOC 2021 classification system was adopted in November last year.
Quebec Trucking Association Calls On MIFI To Clarify Rules For Temporary Foreign Workers
Quebec does, however, operate its own Regular Skilled Worker program for those foreign nationals who have training and professional skills that will facilitate their job integration in Quebec.
That means foreign nationals who want to work as truck drivers and have a job offer in Quebec can and should be able to immigrate and get Canadian permanent residence in that province.
The fly in the ointment to that process would be a refusal by the IRCC to grant MIFI-approved foreign nationals the work permits they need to accept those job offers in Quebec.
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In Quebec, the trucking association has also called on the provincial immigration department to create a working group to examine the trucking industry’s internationally-recruited workforce.
“We know the process is long and we know there’s a back-and-forth of questions between the agent evaluating the file and the carrier because there’s a lack of understanding of our industry,” Pierrat reportedly said.
“For example, many truckers are paid by the mile and not by the hour, the method used to determine the median wage.”
Trucking companies want the provincial immigration department to clarify what they call “implied status.”
That’s the perceived right of temporary foreign workers to stay in Canada and keep working even as their work permit renewal application is being renewed.
“The problem is that a trucker who was going to the United States can’t get out until his application is approved. He has to be relocated on local haulage or haulage within Canada only,” Pierrat reportedly said.
Foreign Nationals Must Create Online Arrima Profile To Work In Quebec
Using Quebec’s Arrima online Express of Interest (EOI) system foreign nationals who want to work as truckers in that province must first create a profile which is then ranked based on their employability and contribution to the vitality of the French language.
Invitations To Apply (ITAs) are then issued during regular draws based on the applicant’s ranking in three main categories:
- human capital (age, proficiency in French, level of education, etc.);
- ability to find a job in Québec (having a validated job offer, having earned a degree in Quebec, or having temporary worker status with at least six months work experience in Quebec), and;
- changing needs of the job market (areas of training associated with fields experiencing labour shortages).
Foreign nationals can also work as truckers in Quebec through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) by first landing a job with an employer who will have to undertake a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before a work permit can be issued.
Once a foreign national has accumulated sufficient work experience in Quebec, he or she can then apply for permanent residence to the province through the newly-relaxed criteria for the Programme de l’Expérience Québécoise (PEQ) – or Quebec Experience Class immigration program.
The PEQ is an accelerated immigration program for international students and temporary workers similar to the federal Canadian Experience Class (CEC) pathway to permanent residence but with an even more simplified process.