OTTAWA, Ont. – Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on the Canadian trucking industry, and the future doesn’t look rosy either, according to a Trucking HR Canada employer survey released Wednesday.
Eighty-four employers participated in the poll, conducted by the Conference Board of Canada during May 22-31.
It showed that 64 of the surveyed employers (76%) had laid off workers due to Covid-19.
“A total of 2,140 workers were laid off, or 8.2% of our sample workforce (26,150). Truck drivers accounted for over 70% of the layoffs, or 1,530 workers,” the report said.
“Essentially, what we have been able to show is that there has been a significant impact because of Covid-19 within the industry, again probably of no surprise to most people,” said Craig Faucette, director of policy and programs at Trucking HR.
Canada has shed 3 million jobs since February, or 15.6% of total employment.
Truck driver layoffs were more prevalent in the shorthaul segment, with 10.8% of drivers laid off, compared with 8.0% of longhaul drivers, the study found.
The survey also suggested that more trucking layoffs are on the way.
“Over one third of employers (36%) expect that their company will lay off additional workers over the next three to six months due to the economic consequences of the pandemic,” it said.
“So, unfortunately, not all that layoffs seem to have taken place so far,” said Faucette.
The study said employers who have already laid off workers due to the pandemic are more likely to lay off additional workers, at 43% versus 16% of employers who have yet to lay off staff.
The most challenging HR-related task for employers has been ensuring adequate health and safety measures for workers, particularly truck drivers, the survey said.
- Companies transporting non-essential goods laid off 10.0% of their combined workforce, or 1,300 workers.
- By comparison, companies transporting essential goods laid off 5.5% of their workforce, or 600 workers.
- Companies transporting goods for the manufacturing sector reported the steepest employment decline, with 17% of their workers laid off (including 4% terminated).
- Over two in five employers (42%) have applied for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Another 24% of employers are considering doing so.
- The most implemented measure for truck drivers was a reduction in working hours, with three in five employers (60%) implementing this measure.
Trucking HR also asked employers whether the pandemic has helped change the stigma around trucking.
The results were mixed.
It said on the one hand, employers were divided in their opinion of the attractiveness of the trucking and logistics sector with respect to prospective truck drivers.
“On the other hand, 29% of employers believe that Covid-19 has made trucking and logistics somewhat or much more attractive to other prospective employees (excluding truck drivers).”
The poll is the first in a series focused on assessing labor market impacts of the pandemic, Trucking HR said.
“As we work to support employers in responding and rebounding from Covid-19, this labor market intelligence will inform relevant approaches” said CEO Angela Splinter.
CTA seeks more support
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said the study confirms the immediate need to expand labor support programs to involve more trucking companies.
The alliance noted that it had been urging the federal government to consider targeted relief measures to support the industry.
“The trucking industry has received extraordinary support during the Covid-19 crisis,” said Jonathan Blackham, CTA’s director of policy and public affairs.
“But it also faces unique and rapidly escalating challenges which require tailored solutions to protect the stability of the supply chain as we eventually move toward an economic recovery period.”
- This story has been updated with more comments from Trucking HR and reaction from the CTA.
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