PWC Report: Truck Driver Shortage a Risk to Canada’s Economy

A report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers for Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP), found that given the reliance the country’s supply chain has on the trucking industry, a growing trucker shortage poses significant “risk” to the economy.

“Truck driver shortages tend to ebb and flow,” said Frank Scali, FHCP’s vice-president of industry affairs. “Through the pandemic it became a bit of a crisis for a while, as some drivers left the business and volume went up.”

Canada has a shortage of about 20,000 truck drivers, and one third of current drivers are nearing retirement, according to the report. The shortage could reach 30,000 in the coming years if recruitment doesn’t pick up. In June, the Ontario government said about 6,100 truck drivers are needed across the province to fill the gap.

The report cited trucking’s aging workforce, demographics, and driver pay among the factors contributing to the shortage, adding that the industry must continue to connect with young people and the next generation of workers to battle against the shortfall.

Marco Beghetto, VP of Communications for the Canadian Trucking Alliance was invited to several media programs to discuss the report and what he industry is doing to address the shortage.

Beghetto explained that the industry is amid its largest ever public relations effort to promote the industry to young people. The  Choose to Truck social media campaign,  which is aimed primarily at Millennials and Gen Z as they embark on new career paths, has generated over 45 million impressions to date.

Asked if recent changes to the Express Entry worker program aimed at skilled workers would help attract new workers, Beghetto said the industry is encouraged, but also stressed the program must consider including measures that set up workers for long-term success in the industry, such as screening both potential drivers and trucking carriers to ensure employers are compliant will pay fair wages, comply with all labour laws, and train drivers properly.

He added that the federal government must also do more to fight against Driver Inc, a tax avoidance and labour abuse scheme utilized by carriers operating in the underground economy. Many drivers under this system are denied basic entitlements and benefits afforded to other federal workers, such as vacation pay, sick days, severance, workers’ compensation etc.

“There are essentially two trucking industries: One includes compliant, professional carriers who treat employees properly, pay fairly, train drivers to be safe and provide the tools and skills that set up drivers for long-term success,” Beghetto said. “The other is Driver Inc., which very often preys on new Canadians or those new to the workforce who may not be aware of their labour rights or. Eventually, these unscrupulous tactics have an effect on the driver shortage by increasing turnover and driving people out of the industry.”