Labor shortages, port delays, housing affordability squeeze trucking in Atlantic Canada

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Labor shortages, port delays, and housing affordability are some of the major challenges facing the trucking industry in Atlantic Canada.

This is compounded with issues like Driver Inc., not enough immigration, the upcoming 10 days of sick leave for drivers and the Jan. 1, 2023, ELD mandate.  

There are positives too, like the announced twinning of Highway 185 in Quebec.

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Trevor Bent, chairman of Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. (Photo: Leo Barros)

Trevor Bent, chairman of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) is focusing on the positives while addressing the hurdles and working toward solutions.

Bent, who is also the CEO of Eassons Transport, is excited about the Hwy. 185 project that that will allow LCVs to roll through, opening new business opportunities for trucking companies in the East.

“The ability to get containers out has been reduced by 50%.”

Trevor Bent, APTA chairman

Highlighting the backlogs in the Port of Saint John and Port of Halifax, Bent said wait times have skyrocketed. “The ability to get containers out has been reduced by 50%. APTA members are saying if they could move six containers out a day, it has now dropped to three,” he told at the Atlantic Transportation & Logistics Show in Moncton, N.B. on Oct. 20.

He called for solutions to make things more efficient, including fixing labor, scheduling, and land issues.

Bent said housing shortages and affordability are a challenge when trying to attract talent to Atlantic Canada. The construction sector, trucking’s largest competitor for labor, is also looking for workers.

Add in equipment shortages and growth is affected, he said. “We crack one issue and another one pops up, it’s a whack-a-mole thing.”

Two-pronged approach

The APTA has also chosen to move the needle on Driver Inc. using a two-pronged approach – education and advocacy.

The group is undertaking awareness campaigns and meeting lawmakers on the issue. “We are talking of over a billion dollars of revenue to the country that is being left on the table because folks are following that business model,” Bent noted.

He added the culture is shifting a little and drivers are gravitating toward companies that provide proper payroll and benefits because some provinces are starting to crack down on Driver Inc.

The trucking industry in Atlantic Canada is looking for ways to fast-track immigration as the driver shortage in Canada sits at 28,000, and continues to soar. “We are getting in front of immigration ministers and partnering with anybody that is willing to listen,” Bent said.

Trusted employer model

He called for trusted employer models to ensure carriers who are following the rules with clean CVORs, proper insurance, worker’s compensation, payroll, and deductions at source can access immigration programs and benefit from them.

Down the road, Bent sees additional investment in infrastructure as politicians forecast growth in the region.

For example, once Hwy. 185 gets twinned, infrastructure like new ramps and roundabouts will be needed to accommodate LCV traffic. This will also bring in additional distribution centres and warehousing.

He is hoping for bottlenecks at the ports to get cleared as efficiencies are brought in, easing the flow of goods into the supply chain. Bent said the labor problems are not going away anytime soon, forecasting they would likely get worse before improving.

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at

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  • Housing is a major issue in ont and B C as well 4 Housing projects in huron county have been delayed. At 7 % interest rate a 3 bedroom apartment would need to rent for $2,760 a month. That driver would need to make $110 000 if has 3 children under 6 yrs of age with a stay home wife or a nanny. A number jobs in huron county are pay class D Z drivers $32 hr. . , $ 33 is what $24 hr was 4 yrs ago in ont
    We need the industry and the gov to fix the homeless drivers and higher cost of housing before or imported drivers will not be happy to drive longer than 2 years