The Private Motor Trucking Council of Canada (PMTC) was invited to speak to the federal Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on Oct. 17, and took the opportunity to express several solutions to the driver shortage.
While there is no silver bullet that can solve the labor shortage immediately, there are a number of actions that can be taken to begin addressing it in both the short- and near-term, and action must be taken swiftly. While we know the labor shortage is a country-wide issue, and the industry is competing with many other fields for people, we must act to prioritize the position of truck driver to ensure our fragile supply chain can supply our nation’s essential services and goods while continuing to support the rebuilding of our economy.
Following is some of the priority items that the PMTC would like to see implemented.
Funding needs to be opened up for training. As the position of a truck driver is not considered a skilled trade, obtaining grants and student loans is not an option for most. With the Introduction of mandatory entry-level training across the country, the cost of a training program for a Class 1 driver is in excess of $8,000.
This is a barrier to many interested individuals who would like to enter the industry. We need increased and consistent funding available to help people enter the industry. One of the solutions that can be acted on quickly, as identified in the National Supply Chain Task Force’s final report, is the expansion of the Trucking HR Canada’s Career Expressway Program. As a signatory in support of this program, we are in complete agreement with the Task Force on this recommendation. We also would like to see work done to elevate the position of truck triver as that of a skilled trade.
Continue to support and increase access to temporary foreign workers for the position of truck driver, with the goal being a pathway to permanent residency. This program is important as immigration is required to fill our labor shortages.
Just as crucial, however, is to ensure the program has proper oversight. We must ensure only companies that have proven safety records, written polices and procedures, formal initial and ongoing training, and abide by proper labor standards, are allowed to hire and bring workers into the country.
We must ensure we properly assess the employer who wishes to bring the worker in if the program is to provide a long-term solution to the industry and not endanger road safety at the same time.
Get FAST back on track
We need to reopen the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) processing centers on the Canadian side of the border. These centers were closed in March of 2020 in response to Covid-19. While the processing centers on the U.S. side of the border have been re-opened, the ones on the Canadian side of the border remain closed with no opening time announced.
We also need to find a way to expedite current processing times as there is a backlog of 10,500 drivers waiting to have their interview completed.
Improve working conditions
Work needs to be done to improve the workplace conditions of a driver to make the profession more attractive for new and current drivers. Government’s role in this is to fund and develop adequate safe parking facilities complete with proper lighting and indoor washroom facilities for drivers.
There has been a critical shortage of parking in the country for years, and while some work has been done, many more facilities are required, especially in built-up urban areas and remote areas along well traveled routes.
Our country needs a strong and viable supply chain to remain competitive, and there is no time more crucial than now to ensure we have the skilled drivers required to support this.
Have your say
This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.