Industry experts and trucking company operators told CBC Radio-Canada this week that while the truck driver shortage in Canada isn’t at a crisis point yet like some other countries, increasing freight demand combined with shrinking supply of labour could change that in the future.
In examining the labour shortage and strained supply chains in Britain which triggered chaotic scenes of panic-buying affected everything from petrol and pork to medicine and milk, CBC interviewed members of the Canadian trucking community on how supply chains are bending here.
“It’s pretty scary. We’re not at that point so far. And we hope we will never get there,” said Marc Cadieux, the president of the Quebec Trucking Association. “Our carriers are complaining that they have the work but they don’t have the workers.”
Angela Splinter, CEO at Trucking HR Canada, said they’re trying to expand their workforce by recruiting younger drivers and more women, but it’s difficult.
According to projections from Trucking HR Canada, the country needs to hire about 17,230 new truck drivers per year up until 2025 to keep up with demand.
“Trucks are parked. It means trucking companies aren’t moving those goods,” Splinter said.
“We support almost every other essential service — agriculture, manufacturing, forestry, the list goes on,” Splinter said. “We’re all impacted when we don’t have enough drivers.”
Mark Seymour, CEO of Kriska Transportation Group, said a certain amount of churn is a given in the industry and it’s tough to recruit when competing with other jobs that offer a better work-life balance.
Kriska Transportation employs about 900 drivers, and Seymour says that at any given time, 20 to 30 of those jobs are open.
“It’s just very frustrating to have that much equipment sitting, when it could otherwise be working.”
He said the industry is not at a crisis point yet, but he’s worried about what will happen if demand increases and the labour supply continues to shrink.
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The Canadian Trucking Alliance, meanwhile, is embarking on several initiatives to boost recruitment and retention in the industry, including a national social media campaign aimed at younger workers.
CTA is also calling on the government to increase funding and support to help compliant, responsible trucking companies hire new Canadian truck drivers, while keeping Driver Inc companies who engage in illegal practices out of federal relief and labuor support programs