Labour shortages, supply chain issues could disrupt holiday shopping in Manitoba

Labour shortages and supply chain disruptions in Manitoba could make for some unpleasant surprises this holiday shopping season.

The province’s need for truck drivers is not new, but it’s getting worse.

Manitoba’s latest labour market outlook shows the province needs to find and retain more than 1,000 truckers each year for the next five years to meet the needs of the local economy.

“That’s about one every eight hours or so,” Terry Shaw of the Manitoba Trucking Association said.

There are a number of reasons for the shortage, according to Shaw.

“We’ve got job openings because people are going into retirement, we’ve got job openings because there are new jobs created because of economic expansion,” he said.

Some truckers, Shaw said, also decided to stop driving because of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, as is the case in a number of other industries.

Despite the significant shortage of truck drivers, it’s not a top concern right now for Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

CME director of marketing and communications for Manitoba, Jill Knaggs, said a labour shortage in general, as well as supply chain disruptions, are among the big issues facing manufacturers.

“Some of the challenges that they’re facing right now are raw material shortages, shipping costs, the availability of containers,” Knaggs said. “Combine this with labour shortages in the industry and ultimately consumers are going to have to bear the costs.”

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Knaggs said it is tough to predict which items might be costing more, or what could be hard to find on shelves.

“No one saw the bicycle shortage coming, for example. Same thing with forecasting supply and demand for semiconductors for cars and your Xbox,” she said.

“These systems that we rely on that are in a delicate balance, are really no longer in a balance and that is what is causing pain points for customers.