Trucking HR survey: industry bracing for more layoffs

by Abdul Latheef

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. 

Trucking HR
Craig Faucette. Photo: Trucking HR

“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.

Trucking HR
Source: Trucking HR Canada

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.

Trucking HR
Source: Trucking HR Canada

Other highlights:

  • 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.

Image boost?

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

CTA

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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  • ““The trucking industry has received extraordinary support during the Covid-19 crisis,” said Jonathan Blackham, CTA’s director of policy and public affairs.”
    Right … for all of about 10 minutes. Now, it’s back to business as usual. Wendy’s doesn’t serve truck drivers after 10:00 PM. Tim Horton’s doesn’t allow them inside anymore. OnRoute’s (Cambridge in particular) make up rules as they go along so they don’t have to let truck drivers inside. Driver’s have gone back to being expendable instead of essential.
    All of this isn’t going to matter much anyways as long as the Mr. Trudeau and the liberals keep using the COVID-19 “pandemic” as tool to hold political power. They will, sooner rather than later, irreparably break the supply chain, and in so doing bankrupt the country. It’s a slippery slope and we are well on our way to the bottom.
    It’s going to be up to provincial leaders to save the country. Some of them have the stones to do it, some don’t, and some are on the fence. The fence sitters (Doug Ford take note) need to get their heads in the game.

  • i guess the question is in all this lay offs why has there no government layoffs happening???
    does the trucking industry and its customers have to take all the brunt… – at least the American cities and government have layoffs all over to help with budgets… does Canada not get that ???
    also you list large layoffs in the trucking – where are the guys??? there should be drivers looking for work then ???
    i think we are in the same problem as many sectors – cant get workers – because it is nicer to stay at home and collect a covid check than work… major, major problem that the Federal Government has created…
    this needs to be reported as well…

    • The problem is in private nursing homes, food or meat processing, some foreign farm workers and truck drivers are only finding out after someone becomes sick and dies of C 19 that their children are not going to looked after. I know of 2 truck drivers that got siick in the U S they both got very LARGE medical bills that the company they worked for and the private companies insurance would not pay. I know of a foreign farm worker who got sick and may never be able to make enough to support his family again, This is one of the cases that caused the Mexican government to slow up foreign farm workers from Mexico. I volunteer with a Non profit group that has a case of a nursing home workers 8 that died from the virus. She had 2 small children one 4 years old and have one 18 months W S I B will not cover the cost of raising those 2 children to age of 21 if they stay in school and get decent marks. A worker at meat processing plant near Guelph who also drove local truck who died will not get money to raise his kids as his wife is unable to work after a car accident 4 years with still no payout, I have seen many people homeless and kids have a very bad life in Ontario Canada because of W S I B and private insurance companies. When fix this people who be less afraid of dieing and leaving their families unprotected,

  • I call B.S there is so.much work out there, its fear mongering to make drivers, mechanics and warehouse people to take a pay cut or apply for jobs for a reduced rate. During the great depression trucking companies weremaking money because people need to.eatand survive