Sizing up the labor market, and what to do next

Picture of Angela Splinter

Labor shortages in trucking and logistics are an ongoing concern. Employers and employees across the country feel increasing pressure from longer recruiting processes, reduced productivity, and the fact that our pool simply continues to shrink.

To quantify the problem, Trucking HR Canada launched a Labor Market Information Project in the summer of 2018. More recently, we partnered with the Conference Board of Canada on a comprehensive survey to more accurately assess the industry’s labor needs.

This work is important for businesses in trucking and logistics. But it’s also clear that understanding the industry’s labor needs affects all Canadians.

The size of our impact

Transportation is one of 10 critical sectors on which Canada’s economy and national security depends, as identified by Public Safety Canada.

Trucking and logistics companies connect consumers, businesses and international markets that are vital to our economy. According to the Conference Board, the sector carries an estimated $550 billion worth of goods purchased by Canadians, and more than $300 billion worth of Canadian goods destined to export markets (this does not even include wheat and crude oil).

We also support the nine other critical infrastructure sectors: energy and utilities, information and communication technology, finance, health, food, water, safety, government and manufacturing. These pillars of our economy depend on a healthy trucking and logistics industry.

The size of our workforce

In 2019, the trucking and logistics sector employed 3.6% of Canada’s workforce, or just over 650,000 workers. And, while 45% of these employees are truck drivers, we also employ close to 90,000 people in shipping and receiving, close to 88,000 delivery and courier service drivers, and just over 36,000 material handlers at warehouses and distribution centers.

And, let’s not forget the many others who keep operations going: an estimated 40,000 managers, supervisors and administrative staff and 9,000 accounting personnel.

The size of our problem

According to Statistics Canada’s Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, the trucking industry experienced an average job vacancy rate of 6.8% in 2019. This is the second-highest vacancy rate among Canadian industries after crop production, and more than double the national average of 3.3%.

Put differently, we’re unable to fill roughly one out of 15 open positions, most of them truck drivers. In fact, the total number of truck driver vacancies in Canada has increased from an annual average of 8,600 in 2016 to 20,500 in the first three quarters of last year.

Against this backdrop, it may come as little surprise that 61% of employers who responded to our survey reported difficulties filling truck driver positions within the past year.

One reason is demographics. According to the 2016 census, 32% of truck drivers in Canada are 55 or older compared to 21% of the entire Canadian labor force. More than 6% of our drivers are 65 or older. It is difficult to compete for younger workers.

Call to action

Our industry’s shortage of workers — and drivers in particular — affects individual businesses, Canada’s transportation infrastructure and the overall economy.

We need to work quickly on solutions. As a first step, on March 11, we’re making sure everyone is aware of the severity of the situation.

We’re now finalizing our briefing report in partnership with the Conference Board and will release the results of our Labor Market Information Project at a press conference in Toronto on March 11.

If you cannot make it to Toronto, please register to watch the event live via our webcast. We also encourage you to reach out to your provincial trucking association. Many will be joining via webcast in their offices.

Following the press conference, we will hold a Workforce Knowledge Exchange — a discussion that will focus on identifying specific actions now that we have comprehensive data about our labor market.

Feel free to reach out to to learn more.


Picture of Angela Splinter

Angela Splinter leads Trucking HR Canada, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the human resources challenges and opportunities in the trucking and logistics sector. Angela is a frequent speaker at industry events sharing innovative HR best practices, trends and insights. As a respected leader in HR, Trucking HR Canada works with various associations, government departments and industry professionals to ensure employers have the skilled workforce needed for today and in the future. Feel free to learn more at, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us @TruckingHR for the latest tips, practical resources and more. You can follow Angela directly at @AngSplinter. And we can be reached by e-mail:

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  • The problem is the treatment of truck drivers, e-logs and parking. The insurance companies need to work to provide insurance for new truck drivers. The current model of pay for experienced truck drivers with more than 5,000 hours driving time will not work with a time clock. I am parked outside Queen’s Park when I am not in hospital. Protesting insurance companies are not taking care of claims properly. Nobody in the CTA seems to care.

  • I’ve been turning wrenches for over 30 years, and I’m making $36 an hour. A few younger mechanics and apprentices I work with don’t think they should have to work as hard as me or how I work because they don’t make as much as me. They are entitled.

  • Lets do some math.
    In Ontario minimum wage is $14.00 So 44hrs @ $14.00 = $616.00
    A driver working in Ontario for 70 hrs per week would get $21.00 after 44hrs till 70hrs $21.00 x 26 hrs = $546.00 + $616.00 =$1162.00 x 52 weeks $60,424.00 per annum.
    Should drivers be making more than minimum wage ?
    Are they ? It seems most long haul are not making much more than $60k
    All that time invested and all that responsibility for minimum wage or a tad more if your lucky.
    Now please stop with this Labor shortages in trucking.
    Truck drivers are worth more than is being offered.
    Private carriers who pay well have little turnover and no shortage of good safe and experienced drivers wanting to work for them.

  • Look at Mark Waschke,s wage above @ 70 hrs a week he would make
    $155,376.00 per annum. So mechanic or truck driver what should I do ?

  • I have been a driver for 26 years. Over the last 5 years lets say, the industry has change so much. From dealing with dispatch, shipping & receivers to everyone else on the roads. The daily tasks of driver has increased more and more ever day. Everyone just thinks the truck drivers just sits in the seat and drives and has no worries or any issues. I have been off the road the last 2 years doing driver training, Safety & Compliance and recruitment for a company. One of the BIGGEST issues and reasons I got off the road has to do with E.L.D.’s. How can a computer tell when someone is tired or needs a rest? I could go on about this part for a while but I also want to touch on the what Mark Waschke has commented on as well. I listen to these “NEW” drivers from all runs of life, come in to our company (the industry) looking for work, with no experience and each of them have limits of all kinds. I only want to work days, I don’t want to cross the Border, I can only work 9am – 5pm and have to be home for my kids, I can’t drive a standard, I want my own truck and on and on.
    Most companies in the area I live start drivers around $20- $21 a hour.
    Best part is that your home daily. You can make a good living driving truck, however there is scarifies we all have to make and for these “new” drivers they have to learn that right off the bat, TRUCKING IS NOT YOUR 9 to 5 job. Average driver will work 10 to 12 hours a day but could work up to 14 each day. We pay our drivers $21.+- a hour, over time is after 10 hours daily and also after 55 hours per week. Bottom line is trucking is hard work, mentally, physically and emotionally. But its the TRUCKERS that keep this country moving.

  • Many truck drivers are leaving because low pay and parking issues. Many truck drivers are leaving after health insurance. The job is not competitive with other jobs.

  • R.Parent
    In 1988 Miracle Food Mart was a supermarket chain in Ontario, Canada
    drivers hourly pay $20.00 your wages are 32 years ago.