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CTA study predicts driver shortage to be worse than previously thought


TORONTO, Ont. – A new study by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) reveals that the driver shortage in the Canadian for-hire trucking industry is escalating quicker that previously believed.

Updating the CTA’s 2011 report, which predicted a 33,000 shortfall by 2020, the new study – ‘Understanding the Truck Driver Supply and Demand Gap’ – says there will be a shortage of 34,000 drivers by 2024, reflecting an increase in demand of 25,000 and a decrease in supply of 9,000.

The study adds that the shortage could rise to 48,000 due to what it called ‘plausible combinations of different trends that could affect industry demand, labour productivity and occupational attractiveness.’

Driver demand is expected to increase most in Ontario, followed by British Columbia, with the greatest gap between demand and supply in Ontario and Quebec.

CTA president and CEO David Bradley said the study “should be a wake-up call and reminder to everyone – carriers, shippers and governments – that while the current lackluster economic activity may be taking some of the edge off the driver shortage in the immediate-term, the underlying trend points to a long-term chronic shortage of truck drivers.

“When you consider that almost everything that people consume on a daily basis, or that serve as inputs into the production process, is shipped by truck, the economic implications of a driver shortage are potentially immense.”

The study also points out what it called a ‘demographic cliff,’ with nearly 169,000 drivers employed in the for-hire sector in 2014 and the average age continuing to increase more rapidly than the Canadian labour force in general.

By 2024, the study predicts the average truck driver age to be over 49, up from 47 in 2014 and 44 in 2006. Approximately 17,000 drivers are between the age of 60 and 65.

“As the ratio of younger to older workers continues to increase for the labour force as a whole, it is clear that the trucking industry will have to reverse this trend, and fast,” said the study’s authors.

Between 2006 and 2011, drivers between the age of 25 and 34 dropped from 18% to below 15%, while those between 55 and 64 increased from 17% to 22%. Immigrants make up 20% of truck drivers, also smaller than the Canadian workforce as a whole.

Men continue to make up the vast proportion of drivers at 97%, compared to 52% of all employees in Canada.

“The trucking industry and the companies that make up the trucking industry are not the only stakeholders that have an interest in maintaining the sustainability of the long-haul trucking model,” the study said. “The industry’s customers (shippers) and their customers’ customers (the general public) will also be directly affected, negatively or positively by the trucking industry’s ability to rise to the challenge.”


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21 Comments » for CTA study predicts driver shortage to be worse than previously thought
  1. Peter says:

    And yet they still don’t pay. I’m making more as a forklift operator. If companies start paying well ill start driving again

  2. Bo says:

    I am sorry, but after 45 years trucking and abuse no wonder the young people are not encouraged to be in this industry. The MTO and the OTA is making rules that it’s impossible to have a life and be a truck driver and with the new rules that are coming up you will see old timers retiring earlier and there are no replacements. I know I am getting out.

  3. PATRICIA says:

    You are so right Peter. Before long drivers will be getting minimum wage for about 10 hours a day. Not very attractive to the milleniums. They can stay at home, sleep in their warm comfortable beds and be home with their loved ones. Why would anyone want to go far from home for days at a time for the same salary they could get staying at home. Just as well to stay home and work as the sales person who is earning much more…

  4. Chris Schmidt says:

    Heres a thought-stop regulating the crap out of our industry. Maybe some of the drivers will stay instead of going to drive a forklift…not very many jobs out there that make you make a note on paper every time you urinate

  5. James says:

    Peter makes an excellent point. Let us not forget the fact that most, not all, treat drivers as if they are a dime a dozen.

  6. Jaret says:

    The industry needs to evaluate itself and change. The basic idea first of all is to pay for our time all of it. Modern technology exist to make this happen. Next a driver who goes out on the road should make more money then a local driver. Furthermore a driver who takes the risk and buys a truck should definitely make more than a company man

  7. Lee says:

    The over regulation in my opinion is to blame for the shortage more than any other factors. Driver pay, huge issue as well, but if a job was enjoyable and provided the freedom of the open road and the lure away from the boredom of a 9-5 desk job, perhaps some of these people would still have been attracted to this profession as they were in the 70s and 80s.
    The ” brotherhood” out there is long gone, and was part of truckings attraction way back then as well.
    Way to go!… Job well done government regulators. Keep up the great work ( ahem ). You’ve managed to destroy what was once a good paying, respectable, and attractive career. Like everything you get involved with, you have ruined it. Now you can all sit back and watch the downward spiral of an entire country as you slowly become aware just how vital and important this industry actually is.
    And by the way, the day queens park and our parliament buildings provide me with public logs of their highly paid full days activities, and a camera stares at their faces from a foot away from the corner of a desk, that is the day I will accept the same done to me.
    Its high time the few professional drivers that are left out there take a serious stand, if we don’t, you may as well watch your career slip away and take that greeters job at Wal mart.
    ….My two cents

  8. Drover Cleveland says:

    I’ve been in this now for almost two years….here’s two major things I’ve noticed that make this job unattractive to anyone considering coming in:

    1) there is heaps of time spent that a long haul trucker does not get paid for–we are expected to be ok with waiting the first two to four hours(depending on the company)for free while being loaded or unloaded. Or paid in only “practical” miles so that if there needs to be a detour on route and it takes 1/2 or more of driving–that’s something else you are doing for the privilege of driving a truck. Many companies don’t consider picking up their truck and trailer at the gar and bringing it back as a pick/drop nor different drop for the same customer. At least they don’t pay the driver for it.
    2) the industry is so regulated that I met a trucker who’s best friend was a trucker and then became a pilot. That friend couldn’t believe how less regulated flying a plane was. But guess where he trucking industry seems to be like the Wild West? In its labor practices. There are companies who hire newly arrived immigrants and convince them to become ‘contractors’. Suddenly a real newbie is responsible for liability, damages, their conversation with the tax people, and whatever else the company can dream up to have the driver pay for. After a recent talk with the labor board, I found that trucking represents 90% of their cases! And that’s likely still only representing a small percentage of those who had the gumption and know-how to report the company. You see, when you lodge an official complaint, you also have to put your name down as the complainant–I wonder how many miles you’ll be driving after that?

  9. Vince MacMillan says:

    Transportation ?
    I’ve doing this for 45 years. First as a driver, than as an owner operator, finally as the owner of a small company.

    I have been stating for years that prices for freight are too low.

    Resulting in no room for viable wages or general upgrading of job skills.

    I suspect that as the newest generation of the job pool looks at transportation they will simply move on to more lucrative opportunities.

    Driving (no pun intended) rates, wages and general working conditions in a positive direction.

    All things change, Positive change within this industry is long overdue.

  10. Mike says:

    It’s simple more money for the amount of time away from home but they don’t listen. I know many drivers that got out but would love to stay driving but it comes down to money. David Bradley it’s simple tell your members to pay drivers more

  11. Bill says:

    I agree with every previous comment. I just want to add one thing….Why do organizations need to do extensive studies to identify problems we are all aware of, that were primarily caused by their membership? Are they borrowing the Obama theory ….act surprised so maybe the blame will land elsewhere?

  12. Robert says:

    I’ll believe there’s a driver shortage when I start reading articles about how many shippers can’t get loads picked up.
    If you’re so smart, why don’t you quit and get a decent job? I was 55, unemployed, no skills. I knew only loser jobs were left. What’s your excuse?

  13. William Harper says:

    I agree with most of what is posted here in reference to the reasons why there is a driver shortage but I do not agree with the trucking industry being over regulated. Yes, the rules have changed over the years but not for the worse as most drivers think.
    Firstly, I have been in the trucking industry for 37 years and have driven steady for the first 25 years in Canada and the United States when I was legal to drive in the United States at 21 years of age. I still drive today as we speak.
    I have developed driver training programs for commercial drivers, facilitated in class, in truck, in field, mentored drivers, taught new drivers, worked with veteran drivers with some very interesting results and concerns.
    Regulations keep you safe and anyone that feels that regulations get in the way should stop driving truck and get an office job. In the 37 years that I have been in the trucking industry I have never had a CVSA violation, freight claim, collision or ever been placed out of service in 37 years as a professional driver. Yes, I have had some near-miss situations but only in traffic situations. Without knowing or caring about the rules or regulations would have been a different story.
    I feel that it all comes down to this. The trucking industry has caused its own problems with the one single most important thing – RESPECT and the lack of for the driver doing the job and their expertise to do the job safely and efficiently.
    It really blows me away that some “NEW STUDY” says that the driver’s shortage is coming faster than thought. Who is the brain child behind this revelation? It’s like this and always will be a problem when it comes to drivers and the short coming.
    1. Drivers’ treated like an idiot regardless of experience and ability – Management is intimidated by a driver that knows more than they do.
    2. Management allows dispatch to treat drivers like crap and get away with it. Drivers at the company’s disposal at any time of the day or week. It is said you are a driver and you answer when I call on your days off in case I need you.
    3. Drivers don’t get paid or are paid very poorly for waiting in truck, unloading and loading, vehicle inspections, break-downs, chaining up in the winter, landslides, accidents (Major), operating other machinery like forklifts, loaders and if they do its it minimum wage, layovers only after 24 yours provided you haven’t moved the truck – the trick here is dispatch waits 23 hours and then says to go down the road 100k and park – no layover,
    4. The company is only focused on one thing having a driver and cannot see that talent or the experience that is in the truck – Some drivers have a lot of experience and education in other facets but as long as you are doing the job well and don’t wreak things you will only be a driver in the company.
    5. Regardless of experience whether it be a newbie or a veteran drive they still make the same money which is poor generally. I started in 1979 at $18/hr and make $22.00 for exceptional, safe and efficient service.
    I can digress on and on but the point is useless and nothing will change unless the trucking industry changes it for the better of the driver in question. These are the most things wrong in the trucking industry. – NOT GETTING RESPECT FROM MANAGEMENT AND DISPATCH – POOR WAGES – POOR MANAGEMENT PRACTICES – LACK OF QUALITY TRAINING – SCHEDULING OF PERSONAL LIFE –

  14. john Wihksen says:

    My god-“when” will the industry and government class Professional Drivers as a “TRADE”and wage scale accordingly.”Immigrants” are not the answer as in BC., they cut costs of operation eliminating Canadian operators, and Commercial accidents rise at a cost to the taxpayers!

  15. Nick says:

    Too many good drivers, who were brought over here from Europe on the so called Foreign worker program, who were sent back to Europe after the 4 year period, because truck driving is classed as a UN skilled trade. A friend of mine, from UK had a really good job driving long haul , bought a house, had a child born in Canada, two more children in school,had all the trappings of life in Canada, had numerus applications for permanent residency for 3 years, only to be told he was being deported last April ,hows that for a kick in the teeth.
    On another note “Who said Truck Driving was an unskilled trade”. I would like Him/Her to jockey a semi with a 53ft. trailer around any of the big cities in North America.
    I started driving in 1973 in a truck with NO power steering,no AC, and a small hole into the bunk, the equipment has vastly improved, but theres no courtesy anymore on the roads.
    Its a rat race out there. On top of that you get paid by the mile, and that is mostly from city limits to city limits, only with the growth of cities nowadays the cities are growing closer…! so who loses the miles. I will be retiring soon and I probably not miss all the headaches on the road.

  16. Colin Lee says:

    Maybe David Bradley should now realize that this is one of the unintended consequences of HIS insistence on the legislation of mandatory speed limiters. Combined with electronic log books they are a dangerous combination and do nothing more than give the driver untold amount of stress, aggravation and frustration..no wonder so many of the good, ‘professional’ drivers are leaving and younger folk are not interested..I’ve been in it for 19 years and have already taken most of this year off in an effort to ‘semi’retire and have changed from long haul to local deliveries. I wouldn’t recommend this job to anyone.

  17. billy says:

    Save your breath guys…higher wages in trucking will never happen…period. If you don’t like it, go do something else…like I did. Trucking as we know it is gone forever.

  18. Dave H says:

    It’s NOT just money that is too simple an answer. The Industry must Respect the drivers right to have a life outside work too. Few jobs require over 50 hours a week to earn a decent living. Younger people and 2nd career older drivers are needed to supplement loners and guys willing to sacrifice family time since it’s obvious there are not enough of them anymore to fill seats. Change is inevitable regardless of what old time drivers say since their way no longer works does it?

  19. Mike says:

    Money is a big issue guys but if the wages for truck drivers are raised, who do you think is going to pay for the increase?? We all do.It’ll be passed down to the consumer.

    Of course home time is equally as important for drivers. 60 % of drivers where I work are all divorced because mama got tired of being alone and started looking.
    No wonder the younger generation wants nothing to do with trucking. A young uneducated man can make way more money operating a machine on a construction site.

  20. J.D says:

    Where’s the over-time pay that we’re supposed to get paid under FEDERAL LAW? Too many bottom feeding carriers complicit of breaking labour laws and under paying drivers under the guise of ‘best managed company.’ No other industry would tolerate such abuse!

  21. Michael Gower says:

    Enough Chicken Little. You been crying to anyone that would listen that “the sky is falling/there’s a driver shortage” and as of today I still haven’t seen a store out if groceries, a plant close because freight didn’t arrive or any other thing that would indicate there’s a truck driver shortage. Enough already!

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