The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and other key stakeholders participated today in the National Supply Chain Summit hosted by Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra to deal with the key challenges and opportunities facing Canada’s supply chains and the actions and strategies required to support a robust economic recovery.
CTA provided the Government of Canada with the following supply chain constraint and labour shortage actions that the Alliance believes warrants priority action:
- The industry must attract Canadians to our sector. CTA would like to work with the Government of Canada to amplify a three-year national public relations and social media campaign CTA unveiled last year. Meanwhile, the trucking industry will continue to work on increasing its vaccination rates which are currently representative of the Canadian population/region they operate;
- The industry would like to work with the government to develop a training support fund for our sector, which would only be accessible for trusted, ‘known employers’ and would seek to support both pre-licensing training and onboarding/on the job training for commercial drivers;
- The industry would like to work with the Government of Canada to develop a known employer program for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and other immigration programs. Under the TFWP, CTA would also like to see the application process streamlined when it comes to Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) and to see a clear path to permanent residency available to new entrants under this program.
Supply chain constraints
- Allowing Canadian carriers to move in-transit between Canada and the US. This is a bilateral issue that we will continue to work with the Government of Canada to help resolve;
- Better utilization of trucking equipment by our customers. This is an issue between carriers and their customers, which the Government of Canada can help promote. Too often our existing drivers are severely delayed loading/unloading. Getting more efficiency out of our existing driver pool will help with our collective challenges.
- Enforcement on the underground economy (Driver Inc.). Some carriers are using unscrupulous payment schemes to mislead/encourage drivers to work in the underground economy. The presence of these carriers and schemes destabilizes the supply chain and strips drivers of their rights. A national crackdown on the underground economy would strengthen and stabilize the supply chain and help protect its labour pool. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is currently engaged in this matter in the Province of Ontario.
CTA also provided suggestions for domestic and border infrastructure that would assist the supply chain and movement of goods in the long term.
“As the old saying goes, Canada moves by truck; but a more accurate description is Canada moves by truck drivers,” says Stephen Laskowski,” president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. “Consequently, labour shortages in trucking warrants priority action by the Government of Canada to secure the supply chain and improve Canada’s economic recovery.”
The labour shortage in the trucking industry was already a significant problem before the COVID pandemic with the industry forecasting a shortfall of 55,000 drivers by the end of 2023. Current statistics show the industry is already well on its way to meeting this forecast and in the fourth quarter of 2021 has already surpassed 23,000 truck driver vacancies. It is also important to note that although vaccines are the best tool in the toolbox to battle COVID and will bring stability to the economy. However, vaccine mandates have reduced the availability of labour in all sectors including trucking.
Minister Alghabra also invited other federal ministers to lead themed discussions on the challenges facing supply chains, including: the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry; the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development; and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.
CTA will continue to work with its members on communicating supply chain challenges and potential solutions to the federal government as this process continues.