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What do you think is behind the driver shortage?

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - A recent report by the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council indicates that the driver shortage is continuing to rise in Canada, with about 12% of the trucking industry's job o...


BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – A recent report by the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council indicates that the driver shortage is continuing to rise in Canada, with about 12% of the trucking industry’s job openings remaining vacant. To compound matters, the report, titled Canada’s Driving Force Phase 2, found that Canadian fleets lose about 22% of their drivers per year (For full coverage of the report, see p.30).

Analysts have indicated a number of reasons why the shortage of drivers continues to escalate, but Truck West went to the truckers themselves at the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to see what they believe is causing the industry’s steady decline of driver numbers.

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Bill Elliott, a 25-year veteran working for his own company, Elliot Transport in Perth, Ont., says he first noticed the driver shortage back when he was a company driver. Elliot cites long hours and low pay for the lack of drivers in the industry.

“We need more money,” he laments, noting also that low pay makes specialized drivers particularly hard to come by.

The real problem, according to Elliot, is not so much the lack of truck drivers, but the lack of good, qualified truck drivers.

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Mario Belhumeur, a driver with Transport Doyle based out of Quebec, says he’s actually seen little evidence of a driver shortage in his 22 years of trucking experience. Belhumeur says his company’s trucks are almost never sitting idle in the yard.

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Joseph Winter, a driver with Canada Cartage in Brampton, Ont. says there are probably shortages with certain types of specialized trucking jobs, but says the shortage is probably small overall. “I wouldn’t say it’s a drastic thing,” he says.

But Winters says that in general, people are not willing to do a trucker’s job for low pay, adding that Canada Cartage uses several driver services. Like Elliot, Winter also notes that the supply of qualified drivers is quite low, as many new drivers lack sufficient on-road experience.

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Benoit Gladu, a driver with TYT Transport out of Drummondville Quebec, says that the new Hours-of-Service have discouraged new drivers from coming into the industry and have probably driven out a number of licensed drivers as well.

Gladu also says the prospect of long highway hours away from home is a serious deterrent keeping fresh faces out of the industry.

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Norm Umbelina, a London, Ont.-based driver with Ryder, says he has certainly seen evidence of the shortage within his own company, but says Ryder is doing the right thing by hiring drivers from accredited schools rather than just putting a warm body in the driver’s seat.

However, despite his company’s best efforts to bolster the trucking industry, Umbelina admits that if all empty positions were filled, drivers would probably be forced to work for less money.


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