‘Our industry is struggling’: Canada facing trucker shortage, say labour experts

The Government of Canada says the truck driving industry is experiencing a labour shortage across the country. As Mark Neufeld reports, to meet the need in Manitoba, that means hiring one new driver every 8 hours for the next 5 years.

By Mark Neufeld

Labour market surveys and industry experts say there are thousands of truck driver job vacancies, and Canada needs to get people behind the wheel quickly to avoid even more impacts on an already stressed supply chain.

The Government of Canada says the truck-driving industry is experiencing a labour shortage across the country and expects that shortage to continue for the next decade.

According to the Manitoba Labour Market Outlook, the position of “transport truck driver” has the second-highest number of job openings with 5,000 anticipated positions needing to be filled over the next five years.

“Manitoba needs to recruit, train, and retain 1,000 new truck drivers every year for that five-year period and according to our rough math that is approximately one truck driver every eight hours for that five-year period,” said Aaron Dolyniuk, the executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association.

Dolyniuk says these numbers may be conservative, and the number of truckers needed could actually be much higher. He says challenges during the pandemic, coupled with drivers retiring and labour shortages continuing to impact the industry has companies scrambling to hire more drivers quickly.

“Here we are in a situation where our industry is struggling to attract people. We’re at a point right now where we need to focus on bringing new people into the industry.”


Rachelle Baker, the driver services manager at Searcy Trucking Ltd. in Winnipeg, says provinces need to step up and help.

“What we would love is for the government to support a little bit more with some entry-level training obviously,” said Baker. “So once you get your Class 1 license, that’s great, you have your license, but then it’s harder to get trained after you have your license.”

Baker says if provincial governments could increase funding support for truck drivers after they get their Class 1 license it could help attract more workers into the industry. She says attaining a Class 1 license is only the first step in being able to drive a truck for a company, adding there’s more training that takes place over a long period of time when a new hire isn’t earning income at their full potential.

“A lot of new drivers don’t have the luxury of not working for 6-8 weeks even for a few months while they are doing on-the-road new driver training,” she said.

Bison Transport is currently offering a $2,500 sign-on bonus for cross-border drivers with two or more years of experience that are eligible to enter the U.S.

Dolyniuk says the overall impact of not having enough truckers will be felt up and down the Canadian supply chain.

“Everything that we use and consume at some point moves on a truck,” he said.

CityNews reached out to the Manitoba government but has not yet received a comment.

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