Canada short 18,000 truck drivers in second quarter

About 18,000 of Canada’s truck driving jobs were vacant in the second quarter of 2021, leaving 72% of surveyed employers to identify driver recruitment as a significant business challenge.

The results emerged Tuesday with the release of Trucking HR Canada’s latest labor market information update.

While the number of vacancies is expected to ease somewhat after 2021, Trucking HR Canada projects the industry will annually face 17,230 truck driver vacancies in coming years.

truck drivers
(File photo: istock)

About 40% of employers surveyed by Trucking HR Canada said current business activity was higher than pre-pandemic levels, while 2/3 were unable to hire all the people they needed in the past year. Fleets reported they receive few applications for vacant driving positions, and the applicants who respond rarely have the training and experience needed to start immediately.

About 1/3 of surveyed employers said retirements and voluntary turnover had also increased during the pandemic.

Young truck drivers up to the age of 24 were more likely than their older peers to be laid off during the pandemic, and many left the labor force altogether, Trucking HR Canada adds. The labor force for young truck drivers was down 38% year over year in January 2021. But the number of truck drivers age 55 and over expanded.

While women account for 3.7% of truck driving jobs, they represented 15.9% of the drop in employed truck drivers during the second quarter. Most of those who lost their jobs also left the labor force, although the share of female drivers recovered to pre-pandemic levels by June.

“Our labor shortages impact critical sectors of the Canadian economy, and as we have seen in other parts of the world, a strong trucking and logistics sector is needed to support supply chain stability.” Trucking HR Canada CEO Angela Splinter said in a related press release. “Failure to better address the acute shortage of truck drivers has the potential to stifle and delay the country’s economic recovery.”

The facts emerged against a backdrop of an acute driver shortage in the U.K., where panicked consumers have been draining fuel stations dry.

“While the causes of the U.K. driver shortage are nuanced and context-specific, the ‘perfect storm’ represented by the crisis raises important questions about the driver shortage in Canada,” the updates notes.

“In Canada, labor shortages in trucking and logistics are an ongoing and growing concern.”

As an example, Trucking HR Canada cites Forest Products Association of Canada estimates that the driver shortage cost its industry sector about $450 million in lost productivity.

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  • I’m 68 years old with 50 years experience and I just quit a driving job. I have experience in vans reefer tanks and flatbed. I’m in good health but will not go back in a truck unless the pay is above average. Prices on everything are rising if you want qualified safe and dependable drivers up the pay.

  • I know a lot of truckers including myself who have moved on to other types of work because the trucking industry is all talk and no action. There’s the pay issue, no respect, no infrastructure for parking, unskilled new drivers, transport fatalities have become an almost daily occurrence on northern Ontario highways, Canadian highway system are like a wagon trail, winter maintenance is terrible.
    I miss OTR trucking but it is to dangerous even for four wheelers. Until there’s some real action to fixing all the many issues facing truckers, it’s best to stay put. I hope to return to the industry someday but it will be up to industry and governments to walk the talk.

  • I am 48 years old and have 25 years trucking experience. I am on my way out of the trucking industry. The pay is crap and many of the new entrants are down right dangerous!
    Good luck!

  • Nothing has changed really since the 90’s as the trade got older and drivers with many years of experience have left either on retirement or past away the problem will always be that you want qualified drivers you have to get some sort on a job training and then the driver trade might get better.
    There is also the retiree’s that are more than willing to come back to help and work part time but according to many transport companies they are in a binder with the insurance company they say if you are 70 years old you might be allowed to stay but if you apply for return and you are 71 and older you no good no more.
    It is a weird mentality these days and the younger generation don’t want to be on the road for two week at the time and only get 49 hours off it does not work. On the other hand the older driver is used to that kind of schedule.

  • There’s a lot to be said for Ye Olde Hub & Spoke trucking these days.
    I’ve seen ads for truckers where—full marks for honestly—the carrier said drivers can expect to be on the road for three weeks and then home for four days. That might be peachy for full-on introverts but for everybody else…? Hellno.
    Not when our peers get to work from home and actually have a life outside of work that they get to live every day.
    Until carriers figure out a way to better balance the lifestyle, the future is now. Oh, and we all see through that nonsense of immigration filling the need because it only means that carriers aren’t willing to do the hard work necessary to reshape an industry; they prefer instead to build their businesses on the backs of human desperation. No thanks. And yes, I run for a private fleet that values safety, happiness and personal time as the three pillars of zero driver turnover.

  • try to hire a foreign drivers, especially from Philippines,we had a lot of skilled drivers,just like big freight and Kelsey of manitoba,

    • No foreign wor should allowed in unless the employers agree to hourly pay with overtime after 10 hours per day and also put up $10:000 for each worker brought in to train or get housing proper medical treatment and proper food to a perso already in Canada

  • We have more than enough truck and bus and taxi drivers in Canada. The problem is smaller fleets and training schools getting gov insurance . Private insurance companies are able to provide affordable insurance tor new drivers in fleets under 20 units. Also I was working with a C B C reporter about sick and injured truckers left without proper treatment and homeless in Ont. I f can see the problem and am willing to work with anyone to fix with a nonprofit organization but only limited interest in finding away to make truck drivers treatment better


  • More of a detention problem at shippers and receivers. This in combination with overall bad management at trucking firms. There is to much rate cutting for it to call a shortage. Perhaps equipment surplus is the real problem. 35 years of over the road driving has given me a good perspective. I will name the real issue here is a shortage of good trucking ownership and management.

  • I agree. That is reason I moved to US and believe or not I am earning almost triple with same milage.
    Best regards

  • Is it possible to immigrate to Canada from the US if I have a felony conviction that is twenty years old? If it is a possibility would you please contact me either by email or by phone or mail, whatever is easier for you. My name is Harold Lindsay and my address is 4200 Tracy Ave Apt#105, Kansas City, MO. 64110 and my phone number is (816) 645-2379 and my email is so you can get a hold of me however way you want. I will give you all the details of my past legal issues. I’m not on probation or parole or anything and haven’t had any problems in over twenty years like I said. But I have been would really like to immigrate and give up my citizenship in the United States of America for the right to work and live in Canada. I really hope to at least hear back from you. I only need a few minutes of your time. Thank you for your time and effort, sincerely Harold Lindsay

  • This is Harold Lindsay again and I forgot to mention that I am a CDL Class A driver. I have over fifteen years of experience in pulling all kinds of freight and trailers. I have all my endorsements. So that or operating heavy equipment. Track hoes, track loaders scrapers and others. Finish work and cut & fill etc. I look forward to talking with you. Please call me at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much, Harold Lindsay

  • The insurance industry plays a huge and often ignored role in this problem. New drivers are impossible to insure and as all other trades are trying to get teenagers to enter their respective fields, trucking won’t even look at someone under 25. I’m 49 and I just started a legit CDL hotshot trucking business and my insurance is OVER $50,000 a year for one 3500 truck. If I had a big rig my insurance would be double.

  • New drivers should get training so that they can be hired asap to fill the gap. If new drivers without training/ experience are not getting job then what is the need of issuing license by the authority.

  • Company dispatch is a cause of shortage dispatch behaviour is worst in this industry. And no good money. Companies eats lot of drivers money. They pay less and take lots of work. Specially asin company owners does that.

  • Driver working hard but company es not give them properly wages plus Canada government did not make any laws for truck driver no any system driver stay away from family work day and night also on holidays for what reason just for living no any law far check return from bank

  • The missing truck drivers? but companies they don’t want to pay more and they crying out loud the missing drug drivers how much you pay that’s how much you got ty

  • I bern driving 11 years now and i be very happy to get out of this industry at first opportunity as well.
    Its amazing how non of this articles nention the #1 problem why people dont want to do this


    No matter the scheduals, responsibility, traffic stress, brutal winter road confitions etc.. etc..

    So stop doctoring the Infirmation and tell the TRUTH its ALL about MONEY VS SACRICE AND COST OF LIVING!!!.

  • And yet I cant seem to get hired anywhere because I am under the age of 25. I even have 3+ years of commercial driving experience as a bus driver (because that seems to be the only industry willing to insure me). If you want to help fill the gap, try looking at Insurance agencies scalping small businesses with massive premiums due to drivers age/experience. Its bad enough we have to pay out the ass for Mandatory Entry Level Training to even get the license, but to be constantly rejected for being too young when you are just trying to get into the industry is not overly encouraging.

  • I have been looking for a driving position since I graduated from driving school six months ago, and I have been rejected every single time because I must have at least a year driving experience. Big companies are too busy in processing driver applications. (I applied at a big company three times, and I have not seen a single response.) I totally understand that putting a rookie driver on the road is big risk, and insurance companies are not a big fan of it. And yet I have been reading news articles like yours about truck driver shortage in North America. How does a rookie driver get his/her foot in the footsteps? Please advise.
    Thank you!