Survey: Canada facing growing shortage of truck drivers

Updated Mar 15, 2020

The American trucking industry is not the only one wringing its collective hands over the prospect of not being able to put seats in the seats of all their trucks. A new report from a trade organization says our neighbors to the north are equally concerned their shortfall of drivers is deepening.

Trucking HR Canada issued a report Wednesday, March 11, that says Canada’s trucker job vacancies more than doubled since 2016, and that the industry could be short 25,000 drivers by 2023, an increase of 25% over 2019. The report also says the lack of drivers is interfering with expansion plans of carriers and has cost the industry about $3.1 billion in lost revenues.

Key takeaways from The Road Ahead: Addressing Canada’s Trucking and Logistics Industry Labour Shortage show:

  • Without meaningful action, vacancies are expected to climb to 25,000 by 2023, an increase of over 25% from 2019.
  • Truck industry average job vacancy rate was 6.8% in 2019; double the Canadian average of 3.3%, and highest among all industries (outside of crop production). Of particular concern – long-haul drivers had what Trucking HR Canda called “an exorbitant 9.4% average job vacancy rate.” 
  • Hiring is taking longer than anticipated. HR professionals are said to be bogged down with increased recruitment pressures and frustrations and by compliance issues.
  • While truck drivers represent 46% of the industry, they account for 63% of its job vacancies.
  • The total number of truck driver vacancies in Canada has increased over 138% between 2016 and the first three quarters of 2019 – escalating from 8,600 to 20,500.

Kristelle Audent, an economist for the Conference Board of Canada, said an aging workforce, lack of female drivers and high turnover among drivers account for the growing problem.

Up to 60% of Canadian truckers are older than 45 compared with 45% of the entire Canadian workforce, she said. While more women are entering the trucking workforce, they still account for just 3.5% of drivers. Audent said turnover is high across the industry, but long-haul driving, in particular, faces a 9.4% job vacancy rate.

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