BANFF, Alta. — “Perhaps nowhere in Canada is the combination of strong economic growth and a severe shortage of truck drivers straining capacity in the trucking industry more than in Alberta,” said CTA CEO, David Bradley in a speech to the annual convention of the Alberta Motor Transport Association in Banff recently.
“The trucking industry is in the midst of a perfect storm,” says Bradley. “Costs of fuel, labour, insurance, border security and equipment continue to rise, the Canadian dollar has soared against the U.S. greenback and the industry has had to cope with the fall-out from BSE, but there has not been a better opportunity certainly since deregulation of the trucking industry in the 1980’s for trucking companies to seek long overdue rate increases and to charge fuel surcharges and for delays caused by shippers and consignees.”
Bradley said he sees no relief for shippers from the capacity crunch. Even if the economy softens a bit – and there seems no chance of that in Alberta, the shortage of truck drivers will only get worse in the years ahead, he said.
“Not only do we have the oldest workforce in the country, young drivers – those 25 years or younger) represent only about 9% of the current driver population, whereas the proportion of workers under 25 in all industries combined is about 17%, ” he said, adding “the oil patch is swallowing up every worker it can.” While some shippers may try to test the resolve of carriers to charge a fair price for service, Bradley said “Now is not the time for the industry to reverse its course.”
Bradley said that while trucking is not a homogeneous industry, he sees no reason why carriers from all sectors of the industry – if they know their costs – cannot take advantage of the current market conditions. “It’s tough, but sometimes you’ve got to be prepared to say “no” to your customers.”
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