The changing face of trucking

If you’ve been around the trucking industry for any length of time, you’ve no doubt noticed the shift of demographics over the past several years. The traditional Canadian driving force is aging, and not being replaced with young people coming off the farm, as was previously the case.

Meanwhile, the void is being filled by more new Canadians, especially those from India. These drivers have embraced the trucking industry – particularly in the Vancouver and Toronto areas – because the profession offers them an opportunity to quickly earn a decent income and to pursue their dreams of a better life here in Canada.

To date, this shifting demographic has largely been anecdotal. Truck dealers, recruiters, and fleet managers all acknowledge the increasing prevalence – and importance – of the South Asian community in the trucking industry. But are these anecdotal observations accurate? And what does it mean for those in the industry? How can fleets more effectively attract and integrate drivers from various ethnic backgrounds? How well do we understand cultures that are different from our own?

This month marks the start of a new series, The Changing Face of Trucking, an unprecedented deep dive into the changing demographics in the Canadian trucking industry. And the project goes well beyond the pages of Truck News. Other Newcom Media trucking publications will also be examining the issue, including Truck West, Today’s Trucking, Transport Routier, and the soon-to-be relaunched Road Today, a national trucking magazine written for the South Asian community.

Each publication will focus on the geographic areas they cover, in our case Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. As part of this project, we analyzed in detail Canadian census data dating back to 1991. What we found only confirmed what we suspected: that the Canadian trucking industry is in midst of a major shift in demographics.

Consider that in 1996, only 3.5% of Canadian truck drivers were a visible minority, while in 2016 that number rose to 24.5%. Also, in 1996 only 1.8% of truck drivers in Canada were identified as South Asian, while that number is 17.8% today – and even higher in Ontario (25.6%) and B.C. (34.6%).

As part of The Changing Face of Trucking series, we will be highlighting some of the success stories within this demographic. But we won’t shy away from the more controversial topics either – including racism in trucking, which Harry Rudolfs covers in this month’s issue. Fortunately, his findings were that it is on the decline, and my personal conversations with recruiters supports that same conclusion.

We hope you enjoy our in-depth coverage of this topic this month and in the months to come. There’s no end date for this project – we will simply cover this important issue as long as it needs to be covered. In the end, we hope we can help your business better understand – and benefit from – the changing demographics in the trucking industry.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • I’m a newer driver, 3 years behind the big truck wheel & over 20 in a four wheeler. I’m also a female over the age of 40.

    My fiancé and I have been super single drivers for probably the entire length of my “career”.

    As I read your article in the October edition of truck news you made mention about how women are slow to join the ranks of the Trucking Industry. Here’s my personal experience.

    I went through 7 weeks of training at 5th Wheel Trucking school out by Sarnia. Cost about 10k. I learned to drive a transport truck and some heavy equipment. I was the ONLY female and the OLDEST person in my very small class. I was one of 2 out of 6 who were actually going to go into driving.

    My name is Bernedette which was the first thing a recruiter sees on my resume. I have as I’ve been told a very good resume. I have more wallet cards then need mention, mad skills apparently but I don’t have a penis which kind of disqualified me from a lot of jobs. I applied to over 30 driving jobs in one month and got one call back for shunting. So I got smart and put my nickname on my resume “Bernie” —- my phone and emails lit up like it was Christmas UNTIL I spoke voice to voice and all of a sudden my impressive resume seemed rather dull.

    See the point is this, it’s not that women are not applying themselves, it’s that there are still men out there who want us in the office not the road. And I don’t want to sound rude or racist, but there is a particular people group who populate the industry who feel women should be else where.

    Moving along, my first job only came to me after 2 months of declines when my fiancé literally took me by the hand and we approached a couple companies. The first company told me that I was too new and I really didn’t want to drive, I want to be a passenger! Yep, that’s what I spent 10k on… being a seatcover!
    My first job came the same day as that inane comment, It was understood that as long as my fiancé would drive and train me I had a job and I would be tested in a few months to drive on my own. I don’t mind working with my fiancé, he has 25 years under his belt and a wealth of knowledge that has been a huge benefit in my learning and we love being able to work together, but not everyone gets a match like this.

    Some ladies get stuck with some unknown guy and maybe he has a little more of a “hands on” approach to training or he shouldn’t be left to train a dog! I know in this time of “equal rights burn yer bra” women should be a driving force for the Trucking Industry but it’s still a very scary world out there even for the hardest of women! This is not a job for everyone, it’s not even a job, it’s a lifestyle and Trucking is not the safest way to earn money either. It’s disrupting to family time, it’s extremely dangerous at times and frankly unappealing to a lot women cuz it’s a dirty job at times and you might not get to look pretty!

    What needs to be done is more exposure from groups like the Women’s Trucking Federation and Women In Trucking. We need to be exposing this lifestyle to everyday women at employment centres, job fairs, high school, college etc. The stigma of the stinky fat pervert trucker needs to end and we need a complete visual overhaul of the Trucking industry!

    I love my job, I have had an amazing experience these past 3 years. I am also a WIT Canada Image Team Member and I love sharing my rags to rigs story!

    Change only comes when we put effort into changing!

  • This blog is amazing!! Changing the face of trucking. We can also introduce truck driving simulators in order to train the drivers and increasing the safety aspect.
    Thank You!!!