Trucking industry outpaces economy

Truck News

OTTAWA, Ont. – Canada’s economy may be red hot, but growth in the transportation industry continues to beat the pace, according to the 1999 Transportation in Canada report released by Transport Canada.

The demand for transportation accounted for 13.2 per cent of last year’s Gross Domestic Product, and grew faster than the economy as a whole – sustaining a five-year trend, the annual report notes. “This can be explained partly by the increasing importance of exports to the Canadian economy,” it reads.

Since 1991, traffic carrying domestic shipments has grown about seven per cent per year, while international traffic’s growth is up an average of 15.1 per cent per year, thanks mainly to an increasing demand for general freight and foodstuffs.

While exports drove the strong growth in provinces such as Ontario and Alberta, transportation business in British Columbia was seen to decline in 1998. The trucking industry in Prince Edward Island has also grown significantly since the building of the Confederation Bridge.

For-hire carriers delivered 76.7 billion tonne-kilometres of freight in 1998, with 61.4 billion tonne-kilometres carried in the international market.

Almost 827,000 full-time employees worked in the transportation industry in 1999, accounting for 6.9 per cent of full-time employment in Canada. Of that number, 613,500 were tied to transport services, 94,600 to transport-related services, and 85,600 to the development and maintenance of transportation infrastructure. The rest involved transportation-related jobs with the government.

The number of Ontario’s transportation-related jobs grew by 2.6 per cent in 1998, while the growth in Alberta and Quebec followed close behind. Where job growth was also strong in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, there were cuts in B.C.

Two-way trade routes between Quebec and Ontario, Ontario and Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia and Manitoba and Saskatchewan dominated interprovincial trade, accounting for two thirds of the $176 billion in business. Trucking dominated Canada’s trade with the U.S. in 1998, accounting for 63 per cent of exports and 80 per cent of imports.

Canadian-owned trucks are also accounting for more than their share of cross-border traffic. Where Canadian carriers operated 57 per cent of trucks crossing the border in 1991, that share grew to 66 per cent in 1998. Canadian for-hire carriers have also been shipping goods over greater distances in the Canada-U.S. market.

It all means good news for Canada’s coffers. In 1998/99 the federal government collected $4.7 billion in fuel taxes, compared to the $6.7 billion collected from the provincial government. Meanwhile, governments spent $14.4 billion on roads and transit systems during the same period.

Despite the growth in traffic, Canada’s roads are safer than they have been in 43 years, with 2,927 fatalities and a drop in overall casualty collisions in 1999. While the number of fatalities involving commercial vehicles was up slightly in 1997, that was due in part to a bus accident at Les Eboulements, Que. in October 1997. n

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