CALGARY, Alta. – Canadian carriers have been bemoaning a shortage of qualified truck drivers for several years now and it’s widely viewed as the largest challenge facing the industry.
However, not all drivers agree that there’s a shortage. Many believe the driver shortage is little more than a myth and that there are more than enough drivers to meet the demand. Some say poor pay rates have caused many to sit on the sidelines while others suggest carriers are too reluctant to give new drivers a chance. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to argue with the numbers. A study by the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council has suggested the Canadian trucking industry requires an average of 37,000 new drivers each year.
Considering the demand for new drivers is so high, is it reasonable to concede that there is, in fact, a shortage of drivers? Truck News visited the Road King truck stop in Calgary, Alta. to pose that question to drivers.
Jeremy Thiessen is a valuable commodity to the trucking industry – a young driver, following in his father’s footsteps.
“I think the driver shortage is a myth,” he says. “There are lots of drivers out there but not enough companies are willing to pay what they need to live on.”
The High River, Alta. driver said nobody would be talking about a driver shortage if pay rates and benefits were increased.
Winnipeg, Man.-based Bruce Glanville is an owner/operator who hauls general freight under the name R&N Trucking.
He says there are plenty of drivers out there, but obviously companies want to hire “good drivers” and not everyone with a Class 1 licence fits that bill.
“Companies want good, experienced drivers and we’re all getting old,” he joked.
Owner/operator Jeff Horn says carriers should be more willing to give young drivers a chance if they want to keep their trucks rolling.
“A lot of drivers today have a lack of experience but nobody will give them that experience,” he points out.
The Swan River, Man.-based O/O hauls general freight for 83 North.
Jeremy Thiessen’s father Eric Thiessen agrees with his son that the driver shortage is directly related to the lack of pay.
“There’s not enough money in it,” says the owner/operator. “If we were paid by the hour like most other people, it would work out to about $3 per hour. That’s why there aren’t enough drivers.”
Bruce Larocque is a company driver for Choice Reefer Systems and he was in Calgary to deliver a load of frozen food.
He also said not enough carriers compensate their drivers fairly.
“The companies don’t want to pay the money,” said the Belleville, Ont. native.
Phillip Grant has been an owner/operator for 11 years.
The Florenceville, N.B.-based driver says there’s a driver shortage because there are simply too many trucks on the road these days.
Grant was making a delivery in Calgary before hitting the road once again.