There is an age-old saying “If you got it a truck brought it”. Planes, ships, and trains will cover thousands of miles from the journey, but that shipment won’t reach your door in the absence of trucks, or in the presence of a truck driver shortage. On a wider scale, the importance of trucking can’t be highlighted enough; it is a backbone of the economy and a vital component in the supply chain. In this blog, Stream Logistics will break down a fairly complicated issue “Truck driver shortages in Canada” into easily-comprehensible, bite-sized pieces.
Is there a truck driver shortage in Canada?
Canada is suffering from an acute truck driver shortage, causing ripples across several industries. Earlier this year in October, there has been a reported shortage of 30,000 truck drivers. If the current trend continues, the number could grow well over 50,000 by 2024. While the job opening remains, there seem to be far fewer people lining up to take the opportunity than there have been in the past. A survey conducted by Trucking HR Canada in 2021 has indicated that 44.3% of truck driver jobs have been vacant for over three months.
However, data shows that a large number of potential workers own a commercial driver’s license – sufficient to fill a large number of vacancies. This indicates a much larger issue lurking underneath the surface since it is evidence that many have decided to discontinue working after obtaining the license.
What is causing the truck driver shortage?
Like with most widescale events, there are many factors at play that contribute to the truck driver shortage in Canada. We will cover the most forefront issues while touching on the ones that play a smaller role. To begin with, let’s have a glance at the overall labour shortage in Canada that span from construction to transportation. While this has been a growing issue since the 2000s, the situation only worsened with Covid and migration restrictions. A dwindling labour force is now spread out across several jobs, leading to a lack of truck drivers. The issue isn’t just limited to Canada. The United States and several other nations have seen a similar rise in labour shortages across the past 5 years.
If the general labour shortage was the only culprit, the downward spike in manpower shouldn’t be exclusive to trucking. There is a hoard of other reasons, such as:
Drivers reaching retirement age
The majority of truck drivers are quickly reaching retirement age, with hundreds retiring each year. It is estimated that 25% of truck drivers are aged between 55 and 64, with retirement right around the corner.
Unfavourable working conditions
Truck drivers work longer working hours with minimal time off than most other jobs. Long haul trucking especially requires drivers to spend extended periods of time away from friends and family. The unfavourable working conditions don’t just stop there: truck drivers are exposed to great risks. Having to drive thousands of miles on highways and across roads built on unsafe country-side terrain increases the risks of crashes and injuries. Over 25,000 lost-time injury claims and 100 truck driver fatalities are reported each year.
Unattractive remuneration policies
The base pay of trucking is not terrible, but there is a catch. Most companies pay truck drivers based on mileage, which does not compensate drivers for their waiting time at shipper/consignee premises. This is further amplified when there is traffic on the road, slowing down truckers.
Expensive/Lack of insurance coverage
In more recent years, the cost of insuring a truck driver has risen exponentially, which has led most companies to slow down hiring. Most insurance companies do not cover long-haul trucking due to their risky nature. The high insurance costs are also steering self-employed truck drivers away from the industry.
Addressing the truck driver shortage in Canada
The most obvious answer to the truck driver shortage is immigration. By making the job opportunities more accessible, you will have a larger volume of fresh employees flowing in to take up trucking jobs. The government alongside several non-government institutions has taken a number of steps to make immigration more accessible to truck drivers, and to make the occupation more attractive overall.
Truck drivers are now eligible to enter Canada through Express Entry. Express Entry speeds up the immigration process, allowing skilled migrant workers to enter Canada in as little as 6 months. By easing migration and becoming a permanent resident of Canada, a large number of truck driver job openings could be filled by the middle of 2023.
The base wage of a truck driver has been increased from 26 CAD to 29 CAD per hour. While this isn’t a major pay raise, it does make taking up a career in trucking more attractive.
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