Growing number of trucker vacancies adds to ‘tremendous’ supply chain pressures

There are about 20,000 vacant truck driver positions this year, but that number could double by 2023, according to Trucking HR Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

While supply chain pressures aren’t new, the growing shortage is one of the many contributing factors, especially at this time of year.

The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association says the problem could get worse before it gets better.

“The supply chain is under tremendous pressure for different factors, and one of them is the driver shortage in trucking and the tightness of equipment,” says Jean-Marc Picard, the association’s executive director. “We’re getting close to the holidays here, so we’re probably going to see that even more exposed in the coming months.”

Picard says bringing more women and young people into the industry would help.

Recruitment is ongoing, but there are barriers.

One of the barriers is increased insurance rates for new drivers, while another is that they can’t drive in the U.S. until they’re 21.

But that’s not all. Just ask Art Jones, an owner-operator in the Moncton area for more than 30 years.

“In society in general, today, workers are not the same as before,” Jones, the owner of Road Wolf Trucking, says in an interview. “People like now to have more leisure time, people like to be home more.”

That’s something that doesn’t bode well with the typical demands of the industry, says the FedEx Ground contractor.

He says doing border drop-offs could be one way to alleviate that concern.

“If we leave Moncton today, and go to the Quebec border and do a switch with a guy from Montreal, you’re home tonight and he’s home tonight,” Jones says.

He also says regulations also need to be streamlined because each province and state has its own.

The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association says some vessels are experiencing offload delay at U.S. ports, just another sign pressures are tightening.

Meanwhile, Picard says a looming challenge will be federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates for those who aren’t double-dosed.

He says truckers have similar vaccination levels to the general population; about 90 per cent with one shot and 80 per cent with two doses.

“You can’t lose drivers right now because of that,” he says. “It would just put too much pressure on the supply chain.”