On March 24th 2020 the Ministry of Transport released a set of exemptions for commercial drivers in Canada. These exemptions to the Hours of Service (HOS) are to assist in the transport of goods directly associated with emergency relief efforts of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The exemption is called “Essential Freight Transportation Exemption” and can be found here.

IMPORTANT: The exemptions will expire on April 30th 2020 at 23:59 EST.

What is the Exemption and who does it apply to?

The exemptions have been put in place to help support extra-provincial truckers who are delivering essential goods directly related to the Coronavirus emergency responses.

Applies to

  • Extra-Provincial truck drivers and companies (companies operating outside of their home province)
  • Truckers transporting goods directly related to emergency relief efforts

*The exemptions do not apply to drives with mixed loads

This means that only drivers who travel across provincial borders carrying emergency / essential goods are able to follow the exemptions.

Please do not push yourself too far if you are following these exemptions. Emergency relief only works if freight and drivers arrive safely. Be safe and stay healthy drivers!

Your company (or you if you are a Owner Operator) needs to notify your provinces hours of service director of the intent to operate under this exemption.

The HOS director needs to know the following:

  • The vehicles that will be used
  • License plate numbers of those vehicles
  • Drivers names and drivers license numbers

Responsibilities under the HOS exemptions

Your company (or you if you are an Owner Operator) are responsible for the following while operating under the exemptions:

  • Weekly reports – updated drivers names and license numbers, updated vehicle list
  • Maintaining daily driver logs with on and off duty time
  • Hold a valid safety fitness certificate in good standing
  • Not to use vehicles or drivers who are in an “out-of-service” state
  • Each vehicle operating under the exemption requires a copy of the exemption in the vehicle
  • Have shippers note on the BOL that the goods being transported qualify under the HOS exemption
  • Keep copies of the exemption and daily logs at your business adress
  • Hold drivers and staff accountable for compliance with the condition of the exemption
  • Never ask a tired driver to continue driving
  • When a driver needs rest, ensure they have at least 8 hours before reporting back to duty
  • Drivers require a minimum of 24 consecutive hours off for each 14 day period

Drivers requirements and obligations under the HOS exemption

Drivers have specific requirements under the exemptions as well, they are as follows:

  • Make a note on your daily log if you use the exemption
  • Carry a copy of the exemption in your truck
  • Don’t drive if you are too tired or deem it unsafe
  • Take a minimum of 10 hours off duty after an essential delivery
  • Request rest time if you feel tired
  • You may be deemed “out-of-service” if you are too tired or impaired. You will no longer be able to use the exemption if you are deemed “out-of-service”

What does “direct assistance to emergency relief” mean?

The temporary HOS exemptions apply to drivers moving the following goods / persons:

  • Medical supplies and testing/diagnosing equipment
  • Community safety supplies (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer)
  • Food and other groceries for emergency restocking
  • Raw materials required for the production of the goods above
  • Equipment and supplies for support of quarantine efforts
  • People needed for medical, isolation, quarantine efforts (if approved by authorities)
  • People in other emergency services when needed for COVID 19 response

Routine commercial deliveries or mixed loads (even those containing essential items) do not count as “direct assistance”. Therefore these exemptions do not apply to drivers of those loads.

All in all pretty straight forward, but necessary to ensure our essential and emergency goods keep flowing. Remember, don’t push yourself too far. If you think driving is becoming unsafe, pull over and do the right thing.

Stay healthy and safe!


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