Canadian trucking industry grapples with driver shortages: ‘This is a national issue’

It’s a supply chain issue that will impact every single Canadian as the trucking industry grapples with a major shortage of truck drivers spanning the entire country.

“This is a national issue and potentially becoming a national crisis,” explains Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

About 18,000 truck drivers’ jobs will need to be filled in Canada by March of 2022 according to the latest report and statistics gathered by Trucking HR Canada. That number, however, is expected to balloon to 55,000 by 2023 added Laskowski, who says the federal government needs to do more to attract new talent to an industry that is the oldest workforce in Canada.

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“The trucking industry has very limited access to training dollars and that’s our message to Ottawa, let’s work together to get more access for young Canadians or Canadians period who want to enter the trucking industry to help them pay for their licensing,” adds Laskowski.

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Licensing can cost upwards of $10,000 to $15,000 depending on where you live.

“Let’s finish the other part of the equation and like other parts of the economy allow access to training dollars for individuals who want to become truck drivers,” pleaded Laskowski.

The ongoing pandemic has exasperated retirement and voluntary turnover within the industry which, coupled with the desire for a good work-life balance, is leading to shortages. And the applications employers are receiving are lacking the required levels of training and experience to be able to start work immediately.

A decline in drivers could lead to a disruption in the country’s supply chain which means it’ll be felt everywhere – from gas pumps to grocery and big box stores.

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“If there are not enough trucks to deliver the goods that people want to buy, you’re going to find empty shelves and you’re going to find things stocked out,” says David Soberman, professor of marketing at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, and the Canadian National Chair of Strategic Marketing.

“In order for us to keep our supply chains in equilibrium the number of truck drivers that are working will need to increase by more than 10 percent over the next few years,” explains Rotman.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance is preparing to roll out a three-year-long recruitment plan and social media campaign to promote the industry and to highlight opportunities within it.

“We are no longer the invisible force on the highways, people know who we are and the importance of it,” added Laskowski.

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B.C. storm puts further strain on already-crunched supply chain

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