Is there a more contentious issue in Canadian trucking today than the Temporary Foreign Worker Program? As most of you know, this program allows trucking companies and other employers of in-demand workers to fill positions they can’t fill locally by importing qualified employees from abroad. Some argue this is a necessary program, since few Canadians are interested in becoming professional drivers. Others argue the program doesn’t address the real reasons behind the driver shortage, and does nothing to encourage carriers to pay drivers a better wage.

Regardless, the program has undergone some serious changes after allegations of misuse. During a recent Webinar, the B.C. Trucking Association invited Michael Patterson of Pro-Hire Solutions to update carriers on the changes. You can read the report here. Below, I’ve outlined four ways you can get into hot water under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as explained by Patterson during the Webinar. Here are four tips to keep out of trouble when using the Temporary Foreign Worker program:

Advertise for drivers locally: If audited, you’ll be expected to show proof that your company placed ads for drivers in appropriate publications or Web sites. You can’t make Europe or India or Jamaica your first option.

Don’t ignore out-of-province Canadian applicants: If you’re offering transportation and relocation costs for foreign workers, you better be offering the same to Canadian applicants – even if they’re from out of province. If you’re advertising driving jobs in Alberta and a qualified candidate from Nova Scotia applies, they have to be given the same considerations as a foreign applicant.

Don’t give foreign workers preferential treatment: If layoffs are necessary, or if desirable work that pays better becomes available, Canadians should be offered the opportunity to remain working and benefiting from the good-paying work. “If there is certain work that is available within your business and it pays more or has added benefits, you must have a policy as to how that work is doled out,” Michael advised. “If Canadians are disenfranchised because you are giving more or better paid work to temporary foreign workers, those things will be looked at.”

Follow through with transition plan: A transition plan is required, which will outline how you plan to help your temporary foreign workers obtain permanent resident status. Auditors will want to see proof that you did what you said you’d do in this transition plan and that you’re not simply sending them home and replacing them with others.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Great article sir!

    There is a well known company whos wheels’ are being run off their trucks by a group of Jamaican T.F.W’s while 15 and 20 year veterans for the same company are having their hours, miles and pay cut back.

    You forgot to mention one other important tip. Employer’s who participate must abide by all applicable labor laws including part 3 of the federal labor code concerning OVER-TIME!

  • I believe the solution to the driver shortage is money and lifestyle. This industry has been battered by poor pay for to many years now. As a business man I understand the economics of the industry. As a driver I understand why people would hesitate to sign up. I don’t know many people that would sign up for a 70 hour work week and to find out your off duty reset is on the road. The money in this industry does not compensate for the heartache. More pay, less hours is the answer. And while we are on the TFW topic, the drivers that are being brought into this country are clearly some of the worst I have ever seen in 32 years on the road. Terrible habits, agressive driving, tailgating, poor lane changes, speeding not to mention the burned out equipment that they operate. Smoke belching out, questionable safety standards. This is Canada, not some third world country. We have standards and it cost money to abide by those standards. Properly trained professionals cost money. What I am seeing today is a shippers wet dream. Cheap rates and a work force you can beat on to get stuff done. I am happy that I am nearer the end of my career than the beginning. The above comments are a professional drivers opinion based on what I see. Nationality does not enter into any of the above. Safety first and always as my employer says. I agree.

  • the trouble is that these drivers in Canada don’t want to drive trucks and stay out for a week or more. if they want the money, they have to work for it. so don’t complain when foreign workers take the job.trucking isn’t an 8 to 5 job…..most people these days want to start with the fancy trucks and big wages. that’s now how it works…