Monday, 24 April 2017

Long time no see!

It's been quite a while since I've posted here and a lot has happened since I did.
The main thing has been that on our further travels we have had constantly poor internet so blogging became a chore.
I haven't driven a truck anywhere for a few years now and have been working as a park warden (general dogsbody) in both France and latterly in the UK, where we are currently living in Bedfordshire and working a summer season at Henlow Bridge Lakes.
The only big rig I am driving now is a tractor and trailer full of screaming kids on the weekends!

I continue to shoot pictures for fun, but also as an income to allow us to pursue our lifestyle choice.

Our new home from February until October, then Spain for a few months.
My images are available here...


Good luck to all my trucker friends here and abroad, and I hope the information on the blog is still relevant for some of you.

My only current blog now is photography related here...


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Hardworking Brits getting kicked out of Canada.

This is disgusting, whatever happened to the Commonwealth?
This is not the only family who have work and employers who want them in Canada, the Canadian Government is a bloody joke, and the British Government are no better.

Read this before making life changing decisions about becoming a Temporary Foreign Worker.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Good information on making the move to Canada as a truck driver from the UK.

I still frequent a few trucking forums on the internet where current and ex lorry drivers in the UK and also ex pats chew the fat. A lot of queries from UK and Irish drivers are aimed at drivers in Canada who have already made the move and a recent post in reply to one such driver makes excellent reading.
As I'm no longer driving across the pond forums are invaluable for keeping abreast of changes to rules etc. and I look in on the TrucknetUK forum regularly; It's definitely worth joining.

Thanks to Jordan Seifarth for allowing me to repeat his recent post from TrucknetUK for people to read here on my blog.

robinhood_1984 (Jordan) wrote in reply to a new commenter:

Re: Considering moving to Canada.

What are your hopes and expectations from working and living in Canada?

Somewhere different isn't always somewhere better.

Its nowhere near as easy to come here now since the recent government crackdown throughout the entire economy of companies taking the biscuit and exploiting the workers, until then, very easy and convenient system of bypassing the local work force and importing foreigners who, while usually on the same money, could be intimidated in to working conditions that locals would not put up with etc.
This was more rife in other parts of the economy, with trucking the bad jobs for the cowboys, of which a good percentage of the transport industry is made up of, were as bad for everybody with Canadian and foreigners getting paid the same and treated just as badly.
That's why those sorts of companies often have in excess of a 100% driver turnover per year.
Not all companies are like this but far too many are to taint the entire industry and it has to be remembered that most companies looking to recruit foreign drivers are more than likely going to be the cowboys who can't get drivers anywhere else and in my opinion a bad job in Canada is worse than a bad job in England, where you still have much more stringent employment legislation and such like.
In most, if not all, of the jobs that foreign drivers will be doing in Canada will be long haul and on mileage pay, which means if you're not moving, you're not earning. Far too many companies here play at transport rather than doing it properly and its far easier for them to get away with such attitudes when a sitting truck and driver isn't costing them a wage.

Opportunities do improve ten fold once a driver has obtained permanent resident status and can change jobs freely but its that initial time with the first company while in the process of applying for PR that will usually make or break a driver/family in Canada and see them stay or go back.
Far too many drivers have it in their head that the UK is crap and absolutely anything in Canada will be better, and it quite simply will not.
Blindly going in to a rubbish job here just because that company have offered you a job will quite likely end in disaster when you can't afford to keep your head above water due to poor earnings, coupled together with the never being home.
If a chap is single and coming across as an adventure then its much easier and the more undesirable firms can serve their purpose while he lives in the truck or rents a cheap room and bides his time while being paid to see North America.
For a family man its different and you need to be earning money, not tossing it off in truckstops for no pay and that's where so many go wrong, because they believe the nonsense that the company will tell them about projected earnings and then fork out for an expensive house and car etc and then can't afford it, or live paycheck to paycheck etc.

If after all this you still decide you want to go to Canada you'll firstly need to make sure you're even eligible and one thing to take into account there is any current or previous criminal record.
Canada is a bit more forgiving but its much harder to get in to the US with any sort of criminal record, and that's where the vast majority of long haul work is going. You can get Canada only long haul jobs but they're much fewer and usually manned by the hordes of Canadians who either don't want to cross the border or can't because of their own criminal convictions.

If you're squeaky clean then you'll need to decide where in Canada you want to live.
There are a few options open there and I'll go through some of them. You'll need to live in a province that has truck driving on their PNP (Provincial Nominee Program) list as truck drivers in Canada do not qualify for residence via the federal government process, but each province is allowed to fast track "unskilled" workers of its own choosing for PR. Below are the provinces which do.

Alberta: Probably the highest paying province, but with property prices to match. Lots of work but the downside is the PNP (Provincial Nominee Program) is set up so that the employer has to nominate the worker, and given the cowboy company work ethic here, that often leads to nothing for the driver if he sticks up for himself against bullying and intimidation from the firm. So I'd give Alberta a miss.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba: Also Prairie provinces but less built up than Alberta but still with a decent amount of work, more so with Manitoba. Both have decent PNP systems that the driver is in charge of. You simply work for 6 months at the same company and you're eligible to apply for PR via the PNP route. Both provinces also have other types of work available once PR is obtained that would allow you to work within Canada or even on local day work, especially if in or near a big city, that's something to consider as long haul work grinds many down in the end.

New Brunswick: This is the province that I live in and it has huge benefits and huge flaws. The benefits are the house prices for those coming over with a family and its a very nice scenic and rural province. However, the standard of work on offer is largely dire and not worth any family coming over for on the whole. If you can secure a job at one of the better companies, things aren't too bad, but its almost all long haul work here, even after PR. What local work there is is usually very poorly paid and dead mans shoes with the locals and goes to family and friends of the owners etc. Also, its one of the poorest provinces so health care isn't great, with very long waiting lists and it can be impossible to register with a GP or dentist.
It took me over five years to find a doctor who'd take me on and even then he only agreed to it because I'm apparently young and healthy.
There are very few long term prospects for kids here either so that should also be considered if you're coming across with kids who will eventually graduate from school and university and then quite likely have to move away for viable work. Another thing to think about with NB is that you need to be working for the same company for 12 months before being eligible for PNP and this could cause issues if the company can't obtain a second work permit for you as they are issued for 12 months at a time. So you need the second one in place before you're even eligible to apply for PNP to secure you existence in Canada.

Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island: Same as New Brunswick really. Nova Scotia doesn't have that many companies employing foreign drivers and the two main firms on PEI do but they have horrendous reputations so while PEI is a nice place, I'd steer anyone away from there purely because of the work on offer. Even NB is a darn sight better in that respect.

Ontario doesn't have a PNP program for truckers as they have thousands of Indians (The South Asian kind) doing the job there for peanuts, plus Russians and Poles etc. No one seems to know how they get into the country and are allowed to stay as drivers, but they do. No job offer for a British person could result in PR in Ontario because of the no PNP so forget that one.

To sum up the process.

Establish you don't have a criminal record and get an ACPO certificate to that effect. Find a job with a company in the province you want to live, do much research on this to find out as much as you can what they are like to work for before you commit you and possibly your family to something you could regret. They'll obtain an LMIA, used to be called an LMO (Labour Market Opinion) which is a certificate which allows them to bring you over and is used by yourself upon landing in Canada to obtain a TWP (Temporary Work Permit).
This TWP is tied to the company you're coming out for and will usually last for 12 months (depends on Province). Its getting harder and harder for companies to get LMIA's/LMO's now so the best thing would be to go to a province that will allow you to apply for PNP after 6 months, which would be SK and MB. Once you've worked for six months, apply at the very first instant for PNP for you and your family if you have any with you. If you're in NB or a province where you have to be working for 12 months, you'll have to hope your company can secure another LMIA for you to get a second one year TWP.
Once you have this, then apply for PNP. Then its a case of waiting until PNP is granted by the province. Once it is, you'll no longer need an LMIA to get TWP's if the process goes beyond the point that your current TWP expires. Your PNP certificate will guarantee you subsequent TWP's until you receive a decision on PR. After you've done all sorts of nonsense such as a English test (Yes, I know!) and a medical, you should eventually be granted PR and then you're free. You can do whatever you want.

Ideally you should remain in your nominated province for five years once PR is granted as you agree to do so as part of your PNP application and in my case the New Brunswick provincial government did keep checking up on me to see if I was still here. In theory, they can petition the federal government to revoke your PR if they discover you've moved elsewhere in Canada but this rarely, if ever happens.

One thing above all else, its not easy, especially with a family. 

The job is very demanding, the hours or long, the distances are vast, the time off at home is often almost non-existent and its a real sacrifice at first until you get PR and are able to get a job which better suits a family life. Its far easier for the single adventurers but even then its no picnic. I almost jacked in several times at my first company because the conditions were so dismal but I stuck at it and got there in the end. Some people who've made the move love it so much that they'd never go back, others hate it and I'm somewhere in between. I like some things and dislike others. Basically, I could happily live in either country for differing reasons. England isn't loads worse than Canada, and Canada isn't loads better than England. They're both very different countries, both affluent and western with a good standard of living in both and different aspects of each country will appeal or put off different people for different reasons and that's as blatantly honest as I can be about it.


The only thing Jordan didn't mention was the harsh winter weather, where most drivers will HAVE TO keep going where they would have parked up in the UK because if the wheels ain't turning, you ain't earning!

I took this picture whilst I was forced to park in Revelstoke BC, desperate to set off and get to my delivery after being held there due to avalanche control and road conditions from the night before.

If you don't want to drive in these conditions it is best that you stay at home because, even though the company I worked for (Watt & Stewart) would be OK with you shutting down, the need to earn money (or hating to be sitting around) will very often make you keep going, and like me, you might even find it exciting!

The picture above was taken on this journey, which had fairly normal winter driving conditions for Canada...