Both the U.S. and Canada are facing critical carrier truck driver shortages. A study conducted in 2016 by the Trucking Alliance of Canada estimated that the industry will be short a shocking 34,000 drivers by 2024; one container trucking company in Northern Ontario has already been forced to leave 20 trucks sitting idle due to the dropoff in interested workers.
“The driver shortage became more acute in 2018 due to the fact that we have a large percentage of individuals over the age of 55 driving,” said Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) president Stephen Laskowski, who also happens to be the president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA). “We’re facing older demographics, more retirements and, at the same time, more demand. It’s only expected it to get worse in 2019. This is an issue from a supply-chain perspective and we need to find a solution to it.”
Heavy haul and container trucking companies make up a large portion of Canada’s internal transportation of goods: an estimated 90% of all consumer products and foodstuffs (the latter of which accounts for 2% of the national Gross Domestic Product) is shipped by truck. As a result of these desperate times, the OTA is calling on the provincial government to launch a pilot program that would allow freight carriers to bring in immigrant workers to fill the shortage.
“We are currently exploring how our programs can maximize our annual Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) nomination allocation to help alleviate these shortages and provide support through economic immigration,” said Kwok Wong, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade. The OINP program was inspired by a 2017 initiative that focused on attracting workers to specific jobs in construction and agriculture sectors.
“A pilot program would allow us to have a heck of a lot more access to overseas labor and make sure that that labor ends up with the carriers that are investing in their companies,” Laskowski said. Every container trucking company — from the smallest startup to the biggest business — would benefit from the implementation of such a program.