Truck News



The inaugural Women with Drive Leadership Summit was held March 5 and I, for one, enjoyed the high-level discussions that took place throughout the day and the practical tips that were presented on how to make the Canadian trucking industry more appealing to women.

The day started on the right foot, when federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch arrived with her chequebook in hand. She announced $421,720 in federal funding to help women and other underrepresented groups to find employment in the trucking industry.

Our intrepid reporter (me) asking Minister Kellie Leitch the tough questions.

Our intrepid reporter (me) asking Minister Kellie Leitch the tough questions.

Of that, $296,720 will go towards developing a mentorship program for women in trucking. The remainder will be spent to identify best practices for hiring members of other underrepresented groups.

Leitch then stepped outside the Sheraton, posed for pictures, climbed behind the wheel of Joanne Mackenzie’s pink Peterbilt, and drove a celebratory lap around the parking lot without hitting anything. I caught up with her afterwards, and dutifully asked the Minister when trucking will finally be recognized as a skilled trade, to which she dutifully delivered this non-answer:

“For us, this is about making sure women in Canada have great Canadian jobs. We know the trucking industry has good wages…I was delighted today to make sure the great mentorship program that has been presented to us is going to be supported…With respect to moving forward, these are great jobs. I’m out promoting women moving into all skilled professional jobs, that’s what we want them to enter into. It’s a huge percentage of the Canadian workforce – 47% of it – and only 2% are entering trucking. Having just driven a truck myself, says to me this is something I’d really like to encourage young people to do.”

Having been zapped of my zeal to ask hard-hitting questions about when trucking will become recognized as a skilled trade, I asked her what she liked best about driving the big truck.

“It’s big,” she said. “But it’s actually really comfortable. If given the opportunity to control some of your own hours, to be an independent provider or work towards owning your own firm in the trucking industry – which is an expanding industry in Canada – these are huge opportunities for young women and I’d encourage them to enter this and also encourage leadership in the trucking industry to reach out to young women and encourage them to enter into this industry, because you’re going to get a great workforce.”


James Menzies

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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  1. Daryl says:

    There should be some kind of apprenticeship as a truck driver leading to a skilled trade designation. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. It should cover everything from piloting the truck down the road, to paperwork, tie down procedures, road laws, responsibilities, maintenance, and how to run it as a BUSINESS.

    I can see that it should be a two year apprenticeship of some kind. To many have a Class 1 and think they can drive anything anywhere. Not so. Even with in one sector, say loghaul, there are distinct differences from region to region.

    I am kind of curious what others think.

  2. Bev Plummer says:

    Concrats to Joanne M for all the good promo she’s doing for the industry, I drove for Highland for many years until 2005 loved it there !
    As for Ms Leitch she moved a truck she didn’t drive it.
    If she’s really interested in learning what we do as professional drivers she needs to take a week or two and actually ride with a professional female driver its a whole lot different than the parking lot.
    As for trucking not being a skilled trade I beg to differ !
    Almost any other skilled trade pays the apprentice to learn one trade professional drivers have to wear many hats and sometimes on the same day from diplomat to mechanic.
    As for this years “Road Knights” who thought this would make anyone take them seriously ?? They look like a bunch of old guys who have partied too hard. I’m sure this will attract loads of new women drivers to the system,,,, NOT!
    I guess the powers that be could not find one woman driver in all of Canada worthy of this honour!!
    Way to go Truck News !!!
    Bev Plummer
    Prof Driver Ret.

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