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Driver shortage a self-inflicted wound, says panelist


STS Panel

Jane Jazrawy, Max Farrell, Craig Faucette and Colin Ruskin.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The problem of the driver shortage in Canada is a “self-inflicted” wound, a panelist told the Surface Transportation Summit on Wednesday.

“What I think may not be a popular belief in the room, but it’s a little bit self-inflicted,” said Jane Jazrawy, co-founder and CEO of the online driver training platform CarriersEdge.

She said the conversation needs to change as companies in Canada have been talking about the problem for years without doing anything about it.

Jazrawy pointed out that in the U.S., there are outreach programs to high schools and women to fill the gap, whereas in Canada no such effort is being made to tap the large female labor pool.

“There is also a shortage of imagination as to how to attract people into trucking.”

She noted that women account for more than 50% of Canada’s population, yet only 3% of truck drivers are females.

Craig Faucette, director of policy and programs at Trucking HR Canada, said there are 22,000 driver positions open in Canada now.

With 6.6% of truckers 65 or older, the shortage is set worsen, he said.

Max Farrell, co-founder and CEO of the consulting firm WorkHound, said the turnover in the industry is high because the drivers feel they are not being respected.

“The only option for drivers to have a voice up to this point has been exit interviews, which is basically an autopsy,” Farrell said.

Colin Ruskin, CEO of Driver Engagement, said the way the drivers are compensated is “just ridiculous”.

His company helps fleets improve driver retention.

“The industry needs to change and we need to start talking about wasted capacity, and I think we need to talk about convoluted pay structure,” Ruskin said.

Workplace safety

The Workplace Safety Panel

Yvette Lagoris, Rob Friday and Zeinab Yousif.

Another panel focused on workplace safety, and the speakers argued that there is no short-cut to establishing a safe working environment.

A major problem, they agreed, is a lack of proper communication between the employer and the employees.

Rob Friday, managing partner at Predictive Success, said many companies still don’t have a safe workplace culture.

It is crucial that companies have safety workplace protocols in place, he said.

Yvette Lagoris, president of the Ontario Truck Training Academy, said her organization has a strict regime, and doesn’t allow students on trucks before they complete three weeks of training.

On the eve of the pot legalization anniversary, the panel also discussed the use of cannabis at the workplace, especially at safety-sensitive jobs.

Earlier this year, a study by the Conference Board of Canada revealed that 48% of safety-sensitive industries had yet to introduce a zero-tolerance policy on cannabis because of a lack of clarity on issues such as privacy and impairment.

Employment lawyer Zeinab Yousif of Miller Thompson LLP said many companies are still struggling to come up with proper protocols to deal with the issue.

 


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10 Comments » for Driver shortage a self-inflicted wound, says panelist
  1. Brook Harvey says:

    Well, there is also no easy way into trucking as a profession. As a minimum-wage employee right now, I have no way to afford the driving training needed for the companies to take me on let alone the minimum two years of driving experience needed to even get a second look from many companies. As I have found recently there are very few companies willing to take people on, send them to training and put them as a part of their team.

  2. rick vanderkooy says:

    I would agree with the lack of respect. Your taking away all control from the actual driver. A truck driver no longer decides how to run the vehicle. He is told by the ELD when he can go and when he must stop. We have been reduced to nothing more than steering wheel holders. I have been driving for 30 years, and have witnessed the changes in this industry. Its no wonder guys are retiring and leaving the business. All decisions are being taken out of our hands and being made either by someone else or an electronic box. If you want to have safety and attract new drivers then allow us to do our job and actually drive the truck.

  3. Tony S says:

    Why does everyone ignore the fact that insurance companies are a major part of the driver shortage problem? Insurance companies made it cost prohibitive for companies to hire anyone under the age of 25, then went the extra step and said they must have 3 years commercial experience.

    When and how is anyone going to do that legally with those policies?

    And why would they, considering they cant get into trucking until they are 28 and only earn a mediocre wage.

    Why not force the insurance companies to treat all as equals until there is an incident?

    Why not (at least partly) hold the driver trainers and examiners responsible for allowing bad drivers on the road? I think the government should pay for some of the training so people don’t cut short the time and quality of the training.

  4. Steve says:

    The trouble is pay — no pay for waiting at the border crossing, no pay for waiting at shippers. Pay by the mile is calculated by a computer, and not by the miles on the truck.

    I drove trucks in Canada for five years and have gone back to driving local and paid by the hour — $22/hour.

    I spent $5,000 to get my licence. I could have earned more money by getting a forklift licence. Greedy trucking companies are to blame .

    • Concerned citizen says:

      Absolutely. Steve is spot on.

      There is no driver shortage at all. It’s pay and benefits and working conditions. The carriers want us to work for free. I have worked it out that most times my pay is below minimum wage.

      I’m getting tired of carriers I have worked for with their job threats and intimidation on a daily basis. I had to sue carriers for not giving me my last paycheck! They lie to your face and treat you like garbage. The whole industry is in trouble.

    • Stephen Webster says:

      Most truck drivers tell their sons to get a different job as Other jobs pay more. Small- to mid-sized companies under 50 trucks have a problem taking on new drivers. The insurance industry is in a mess. There are too many new drivers in Canada without enough training or English language skills. Many receivers don’t provide overnight parking after taking more than 3 hours to unload 3 skids. Construction jobs in Ontario pay more.

  5. Jeff riddell says:

    You cannot attract new drivers to a job that doesn’t pay well, and most of the carriers bend the truth to make them look attractive, but in reality don’t come thru on their promises. There is more money and less hassles in factories right now. So, as long as they treat truck drivers as second-class citizens the situation will remain the same.

  6. Dale Floyd says:

    The notion of needing more imagination to attract drivers is a bit suspect. What are we trying to hide here?

    The realities of the job, at least in the context of longhaul drivers, is enough to turn most semi-intelligent people to other career choices. The inability to attract and retain new drivers is far more than a pay and respect issue, it’s about a complete lack of a work-life balance.

    You will miss almost everything most people take for granted; birthdays, funerals, BBQs, retirement parties, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, etc. You name it and you’ll miss it! Trust me.

    And, it’s the stigma of being a truck driver today. Most news headlines involving trucks are far from favorable, “Another ‘professional’ driver involved in a fatality and charged”.

    In the past couple of years, the media and some police forces have used such inflammatory language toward drivers and their equipment that even I question what the hell I’m doing this for after 30 years in various capacities in the trucking industry. We’re in a business that eats its young with improper training and unrealistic expectations of life on the road, baptism by fire I guess.

    Somebody, presumably either the CTA or a provincial trucking association, even gave us a name a few years back. We’re now “Professional Drivers”. Sure! This apparently allows us to be held to a higher standard in court after an accident.

    Very few young people want anything to do with this industry. The romance is gone completely. Big brother is watching you…literally!

    Smile for the rear-facing camera everybody. Remember though, it’s for your protection from the ever increasing number of ambulance chasers waiting to sue you for pain and suffering. ELDs of which I’m a strong proponent of have ensured compliance of a rather restrictive set of HOS rules on both sides of the 49th.

    You would think 70 hours is enough until you realize you’ll be out of hours about two hours from home. But, who could imagine you’d be stuck behind an accident on the 401 for four hours? No worries though, you’ll get hours back tomorrow at midnight. So much for the BBQ you were invited to this evening.

    As for attracting more women, I think most women want nothing to do with a truck. I certainly don’t want my daughter dealing with this life out here as a woman. There, I said it, this is a harder life for a woman than it is for a man, or at least I’m pretty sure it has to be. I guess that makes me sexist. This is just the tip of an iceberg that has spiraled out of control.

    This once-respected industry lost its way a long time ago and it’ll take a lot more than “imagination” to attract new drivers, women in particular, into a longterm career of driving a truck.

    It just ain’t pretty, folks!

  7. Gord Ritchie says:

    When I started driving you needed five years of clean driving and CVOR record to be hired by the company. Now most are taking one year and some are taking them right out of truck driving schools. The reason is for years, companies have said truck drivers are a dime a dozen and treated us that way. Unfortunately, there was a lot of bad drivers out there but not many good longtime drivers with excellent driving records or experience. Then we had the short-cut driving schools where they teach you how to pass the driving test but not how to drive, which has been one of the causes for truck accidents. hge other is giving the written test in so many different languages when all of our signs are in English and French. So if a construction sign say ‘stopped traffic ahead’ and you can’t read it here comes an accident. Pay and equipment is another problem as companies want experienced drivers but they want to pay peanuts for them. Plus try and get repairs done they act like you are robbing them. Health and safety is another key issue as all companies have them but it’s all smoke and mirrors as their policies are to protect them if you should have any kind of accident. They want you to over look the safety part so that you can get the job done quickly and cheap but if something happens they pull out the health and safety manual and say you have been taught and told about it. Health part is long hours of work and little sleep plus bad eating habits cause poor health and bad consternation levels which also a main cause of accidents. New drivers coming into this industry think all you have to do is point the truck straight ahead and that’s it. In short better pay, equipment, training and health-and-safety measures will help ease the driver shortage.

  8. DaveP65 says:

    Dale Floyd nailed it. Blame the companies all you want…there is lots of blame to go around, but the lifestyle is awful. 3% of drivers are women for a reason. You are alone all the time, especially in Canada, parking with amenities is woefully inadequate, personal safety can be suspect in a lot of areas. People you deal with are rude for no reason, healthy eating is extremely difficult….ive done it for 37 years, and I truly wonder why.

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