Up to $20K available to train and onboard new truck drivers

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The federal government will fund the training and onboarding of up to 2,600 new truck drivers and other trucking industry workers under Trucking HR Canada’s Career ExpressWay Program.

Up to $20,000 will be available to cover the costs of preparing a new truck driver – with up to half of that available for entry-level training, and up to $10,000 to help cover the costs of further onboarding, mentoring, and finishing programs. Wage incentives are also available for new hires in other in-demand positions.

Some of the funds will also be directed to underrepresented groups such as young people and women.

millennial-aged truck driver
(Photo: iStock)

“The bulk of this is about economic recovery. It’s about getting Canadians to work,” said Trucking HR Canada CEO Angela Splinter, referring to the $43 million in funding through the federal Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program. “It’s a good number of people for sure.”

“Without truckers, groceries wouldn’t make it to the shelves of our local supermarkets and builders wouldn’t get the supplies they need. We’re investing in Trucking HR to make sure the industry can support truckers and the workers who help them by equipping them with the training and skills they need to meet the demand we know is there,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough said in a press release.

How fleets get training funds

Interested fleets register an expression of interest through the program’s website, and commit to submitting pay stubs that show source deductions. The latter requirement would exclude employers involved in the so-called Driver Inc. model that misclassifies employees as independent contractors.

Fleets will also need to confirm certain policies are in place and commit to safe work environments.

The funding agreement was first signed Oct. 24, although the program is only now being formally announced. There are 209 registered fleets so far, and initial funding has been provided for 115 new truck drivers and 200 wage subsidies overall.

“We’re working to ensure that we have regional representation. We also want this to be as attainable to a small fleet as it is to a large fleet,” Splinter said.

Entry-level driver training standards

Trucking HR Canada will be responsible for ensuring that driver training aligns with its national occupational standard and federal mandatory entry-level training requirements, building on steps that were followed with an earlier Youth Employment Skills Strategy.

The organization has been working with a coalition of groups including the Canadian Trucking Alliance, provincial trucking associations, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, Insurance Bureau of Canada, Supply Chain Canada, and others to establish the program requirements.

Discussions are ongoing about opportunities to use the funds to “upscale” the skills of existing drivers, Splinter added.

Another $3 million in funding has been provided to help Trucking HR Canada update a national occupational standard for entry-level and occupational-level truck drivers, and use Census data to update labor market information data.

That occupational standard, Splinter adds, will help address the gap between entry-level training and road-worthy employees.

Some of the training and an onboarding funds will be allocated for a related pilot project this summer.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • I am a new truck driver from Toronto and I have not been able to secure a job since June 2022. I know many new truck drivers like me without jobs too
    The problem is that there is no entry-level recruitment for new drivers. Employers don’t want to hire new drivers for reasons like no experience, inability to get them insured or for other reasons best known to them. If new drivers don’t get hired, where are they gonna get experience from? How will the industry grow? This is the main problem and I think it should be addressed by our government. It is weird!

    • I agree with your submission, the system is good at leaving the real problem and doing what may not have positive effect.
      I go my license since November 2021, no job till today. All companies are asking for 3 years experience or ability to travel to the US.
      Cheap labor is on the increase in trucking now, some truckers with experience are paid as low as $21/hr.

      • Yes, drivers are usually abused and underpaid. Insurance contribute major problems to making new drivers unemployable. Well sooner rather than later there would be few drivers left because 1 out of 3 truck drivers is over 50 years old.

  • They have lots of truck drivers but they should finish scam like work from agency is a contractor
    No driver take job on payroll that’s big problem
    I drove truck for 30 years just retired because you can compete w that cain scam

  • The intentions are good of this program but unfortunately I don’t think it’s gonna solve anything. It takes a long time to actually properly train a new truck driver. But most new drivers get abused and underpaid that they don’t even stick around that long. So the problem is that not only training new drivers but how do we keep them.

  • Truck Training schools need to have certified trainers, that have been trained to teach! Not just a driver with an AZ license!
    They also need the correct equipment for the students to learn on!
    They need to stop using a bobtail tractor to teach “heavy transmission” instead of having a real dump truck that is commonly used in construction!
    If the schools charge $8,000 and up for a DZ license and think that having a student driving an empty bobtail around compares to a fully loaded dump truck, the person who ok’d that idea needs to give it a shot!
    I’ve done both and I know for a fact that it’s just a money scam and that students from these schools will have a hard time getting a job with a reputable company!

  • In 1996 I was broke. I used my Visa card for $4700. to train and receive my Class 1 in BC.
    I do not support the government granting funds to train commercial truck drivers.
    The problem lays with the industry itself.
    The industry needs their own driver training program which is tax deductible.
    Another main problem is that Canadian drivers driving in USA do not receive American rates for driving there.
    The costs to the drivers is at least 30% higher for everything. So that equates to ie: 40cts/mile in Canada is actually near .27cts Canadian for all USA miles driven.
    I will always remember purchasing a Canadian Hamburger for $9.99 and going south repurchasing the same hamburger in the USA for $16.99 Canadian.

    After 14 years and #1.3 million miles, I only earned what amounted to servitude wages.
    I am glad I quit. It is a great job for those who do not want to see their family again.
    1 day a month. I certainly hope at least that has changed.

    What is most dangerous driving is +50 mph cross winds, and frozen paved highways.
    Having a trailer compete with the tractor to be first is when you learn not to use the tractor brakes. IE: trailer brakes and power on.

  • The reason new commercial drivers find it difficult to secure cross-country driving is they need to duel drive with a experienced driver or drive ie: 5 ton service trucks retaining experience and moving up from there. Commercial Driving is extremely dangerous in winter. Frozen unplowed highways is the norm especially in Canada. Frozen air lines will stop a truck/trailer on the highway. Running out of fuel if the company was to cheap to fuel up the truck at a non-approved truck stop. When asked how did I like it. I always mention the job is worth $15,000./ month Salary. Many food distributors are racking up unconscionable records profits. Drivers are still under paid. US Postal service pays US$150,000. to drivers. I witnessed 21 head on accidents in 4 months (USA) 2001. All from speeding drivers who within minutes had just passed my vehicle. I recall, swerving to the shoulder 3 times to avoid a head on collision. One time because an on coming vehicle-hood had blew up and smashed out the front windows having the car come across the highway. I witnessed many accidents and the carnage it leaves the ambulance attendants to body-bag the deceased parts. The trucking industry know the danger commercial drivers face daily. That is why new drivers do not get hired because they passed a commercial drivers test.