Canada extends hours of service flexibility to carriers providing COVID-19 relief

March 25, 2020

Greg Grisolano

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Editor’s note: Updated 3:45 p.m. CDT on March 25 to include info from Canada Minister of Health Patty Hadju.

Canadian authorities have approved an exemption to the hours of service for federally regulated carriers and drivers transporting essential relief supplies in all provinces and territories during the COVID-19 crisis.

Dubbed “The Essential Freight Transport Exemption” the exemption is designed solely to assist extra-provincial carriers and their drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies and equipment in direct assistance to the emergency relief efforts during the response to COVID-19, according to a news release from The Canadian Trucking Alliance. The exemption will be available until April 30, or before it is no longer deemed necessary by federal officials. It was approved March 24.

The exemption for federally regulated carriers provides temporary relief from the scheduling provisions contained in the hours of service regulations. All other elements of the hours of service regulations remain in place, including the requirements for fatigue management and monitoring, as well as the need to compete daily logbooks and maintain records.

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Read the exemption here.

CTA’s news release notes that exemption proposals for provincially regulated carriers “may also be forthcoming from the provinces.”

The Canadian hours of service exemption closely mirrors a similar declaration issued by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but it includes additional administrative requirements not contained in the U.S. declaration. The requirements will apply to all drivers and carriers operating in Canada, regardless of domicile.

CTA’s release notes that the commodity and products list eligible for the exemption is identical to FMCSA’s.

The following criteria must be met in order to be eligible to use the hours of service exemption:

  • The carrier must notify the hours of service director in their base jurisdiction that they want to use the exemption (individual jurisdictions to designate contact in their specific communications to industry).
  • The carrier must list all drivers and vehicles to participate under the exemption.
  • A copy of the exemption must be carried in every vehicle operating under the exemption.
  • The driver must indicate in the remarks section of their daily log if they are operating under the exemption on that day.
  • A carrier cannot have a “conditional” or “unsatisfactory” safety rating;
  • The driver or carrier cannot be under an out-of-service order.

The CTA release says it expects its members will be using this measure “only in very rare or limited circumstances.” They suggest carriers with further questions about the exemptions should contact their provincial trucking association.

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Mandatory quarantine will not apply to cross-border trucking

On Wednesday, March 25, Canadian Minister of Health Patty Hadju announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine policy for all travelers returning to Canada.

The quarantine rule does not apply to essential workers, including cross-border truckers.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.