Navigating the Canadian Essential Freight Transportation Exemption

April 22, 2020

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On March 24th, Transport Canada released the Essential Freight Transportation Exemption, temporarily suspending Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service (HoS) Regulations for carriers and drivers who are providing direct assistance in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including moving medical supplies, fuel, and paper products, among other categories.

To ensure that you’re equipped with the right tools to keep your team safe and maintain operations throughout this period, we’ve put together an FAQ to help you understand if the HOS suspension applies to your fleet’s operations and how to navigate this change with Samsara:

For additional support, our team is available to help 24/7.

Does this exemption apply to my fleet’s operations?

Generally the exemption applies to extra-provincial truck undertakings that are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transport for medical supplies, sanitation equipment, and medical personnel, among other categories. This exemption applies across all Canadian provinces and territories. Please refer to the Essential Freight Transportation Exemption posted on Transport Canada’s website for more details.

If the suspension does apply to my operations, how should I indicate this using Samsara’s ELD product?

AAccording to the guidance in the Essential Freight Transportation Exemption, drivers must indicate in the "Remarks" section of each daily log, if the exemption is being used on that day.

What other requirements must be satisfied under the exemption?

There are a number of important requirements, including:

  • Drivers must also carry a copy of the exemption in the commercial vehicle and make the documents available for inspection by an inspector, immediately upon request;

  • Drivers must still use paper logs or their ELD solution to track their on-duty time, driving time, and off-duty time each day; 

  • Before beginning to conduct operations under this exemption, motor carriers must notify their provincial hours of service director in writing and supply a set of required information such as the vehicles and drivers that will be operating under this exemption.

  • Drivers must also hold a valid safety certificate and the driver and vehicle must not be subject to an out-of-service declaration.  

  • Critically, drivers must not drive under the exemption if their faculties are impaired or likely to be impaired by fatigue.

For more details, please refer to the exemption posted on the Transport Canada’s website.

If the exemption does apply to my operations, when exactly am I exempt from sections 12 to 29 and 37 to 54 of the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations?

Generally the exemption applies while drivers are engaged in direct assistance activities if they and the operating vehicles have already been identified to their provincial hours of service director. Drivers must take a minimum of 10 consecutive off-duty hours after delivery of the essential cargo. Please refer to the exemption posted on Transport Canada’s website for more details.

How long is this limited suspension expected to last?

The suspension will be in effect through April 30, 2020, or until it is cancelled in writing by the Minister of Transport, whichever occurs sooner.

Where should I go if I have questions about the declaration or how to account for it using Samsara’s ELD product?

For questions related to using Samsara’s ELD product to account for the declaration, please reach out to our support teams at For questions related to the exemption itself (whether it applies to your operations, etc.), please contact Transport Canada's Motor Carrier Division directly via the phone number or email address provided on the Motor Carriers, Commercial Vehicles and Drivers page (below).

Phone (long distance, Canada): 1-800-333-0371

Phone (Ottawa region and from other countries): 1-613-998-8616 


Thank you for your work

We hope you and your teams are staying safe and we thank you for the work that you are doing. Your work is playing an integral role in sustaining people across the nation and our team wants to provide help wherever we can to ease your operations. If you or your drivers need additional assistance, our team is available to help  24/7.

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