BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -There’s no getting around it, the global credit crisis has had an effect on Canada and all industries are feeling the crunch.
The current economic downturn has investors running, stock markets plunging and insiders saying that we’re on the brink of a recession. But what does this mean for the trucking industry here in Canada?
Truck West went to the Fifth Wheel Truck stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to find out how the trucking industry is coping with the current financial crisis.
After 35 years of driving, Paul Hamilton has been on the road long enough to know these market trends are cyclical. “Right now the housing industry in America is very slow so a lot of the building products we used to haul to the United States we don’t anymore because the mills are closed,” said the Plaster Rock, N. B.-based K&T Transport driver. “A lot of mills in New Brunswick are closed, but they’ll probably re-open them when the exchange rate and the market get to be favourable. So as soon as the housing starts coming back, I’m looking for a big upturn in the flatbed business.”
Mario Duval, a driver for Ste- Anne-de-Prescott’s Charlebois Transport, points out another problem for Canadian truckers that is a result of the tanking American economy.
“We’re getting less work, I mean it’s been really slowing down since September,” said the veteran driver. “I haul shingles, and I only do Ontario and Quebec, but it’s still showing over here because people not hauling to the states take loads we normally do.”
It isn’t just more drivers competing for the same loads. As Windsor, Que.-based Transport Michel Marcotte driver Claude Loiselle notes, the need for a strong American housing industry is just as important for many Canadian companies as it is for those to the south.
“I know one thing, we depend on the US because all of our exports go there,” he said. “I’m not a politician, but I know if things stay this way, something will have to be done before long. Everything’s closing up all over the place, but I guess time will tell.”
John Clearwater, who has been driving for 15 years and is currently with Winnipeg-based Arnold Bros. Transport, echoes Loiselle’s concerns.
“We rely a lot on cross-border shipments and if the Americans aren’t going to be buying our freight it’s going to be harder for us to get trips down there,” he said. Clearwater did make note of the positive effect the state of the economy has had on fuel prices, but added that dropping fuel prices aren’t enough to balance the effect of the economy industry- wide.
Not all the drivers we spoke with have been feeling the crunch of the economy.
“I’m not out there on the edges as an owner/operator who’s going to take the full hit with the fuel prices, and it hasn’t affected my runs as of yet, so I’ve been quite fortunate that I haven’t really felt it,” said Kevin Bimm, a driver with Bison Transport, based in Mississauga.
“As a company driver I’m insulated, Bison being a big company, and I think they have some locked in contracts, so the downturn really hasn’t affected me.” •
-Jason Sahlani is enrolled in Humber College’s Accelerated Journalism program and will be working this fall as an intern at Business Information Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.