Trucking layoffs are already underway


TORONTO, Ont. — While some trucking segments are enjoying a surge in demand, others are struggling because of Covid-19 closures.

Drivers working in dedicated transportation segments such as auto haulers, or those working in the resource sector, are among those affected.

Cambridge, Ont.-based Challenger Motor Freight, for example, has temporarily laid off 40 drivers.

“Some of our dedicated businesses shut down due to the provincial shutdown. So, we have a few drivers temporarily laid off, but other than that we’re still doing good,” said Geoff Topping, Challenger’s vice-president of human resources.

Twenty support staff will also be laid off, but all will continue to receive company benefits, Topping added.

An Ontario hauler of auto parts, which requested to remain anonymous, said it had been hit hard by the closures.

All of its 400 drivers are either owner-operators or independent contractors. Most of them are out of job now because of the fleet’s heavy reliance on the automotive industry. In some cases, drivers have chosen to stay home.

“We are predominantly doing auto parts, and the automobile industry is entirely down right now. We don’t do much of the general freight, only 10%,” a company executive said.

The lack of business has led to the layoff of 80 office staff, more than 80% of its employees.

In Alberta, the Mullen Group laid off an undisclosed number of employees this month in response to what company chairman and CEO Murray Mullen called “unprecedented declines in economic activity” because of the pandemic.

Quebec’s Groupe Robert has laid off a few drivers, but the company did not say how many people have been affected.

The cuts are not limited to for-hire fleets.

Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, told Today’s Trucking that several PMTC members are in the process of laying off drivers and other staff.

He said many of them are also struggling with whether to act now or wait until full details of government relief packages announced in the past few weeks are released.

The federal government has unveiled stimulus measures worth $107 billion, including tax deferrals, interest-free loans, and a 75% wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized companies to avert layoffs.

More details are expected to be released in Ottawa this week.

“We have some members, who provide essential services, like delivering food, supplies to stores, medical supplies, among others, who are becoming busy and struggling for drivers and equipment, but that is far outweighed by those who do not have enough work to keep their drivers moving,” Millian said.

The PMTC has asked fleets looking for work to contact its offices with their details so that it can put them in touch with carriers needing extra power and labor, Millian said.

“The ones looking for help are outnumbered three-to-one by those who need work. This industry is a resilient one, and this will be the toughest test yet,” he added.


Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.


  • Thanks very much for keeping us in “the loop” regarding our industry.

    Your reporting is greatly appreciated.

    Don Faiers
    Simcoe Driver Service

  • Companies need to LAY-OFF and let drivers get benefits. I can just see it now , work a driver 1 day then send them home. Then they starve. I’m not saying EI is great but it’s better than working a few hours a week

  • These companies and workers should be hired on by the government temporarily and use those trucks to transport dry goods and equipment. Once it is all o er and done with , both side look like champions and you helped this fine country. Or if the trucks need loads I have loads they can haul and I pay your company. Just depends where the trucks are located. I need dry van and reefer.

  • Drivers need to consider that covid-19 could cause an overage of drivers being hired. Think about after covid-19. Some companies are already getting rid of drivers. As of right now there are several reasons for the shortage of drivers. Companies black ball drivers,they let drivers go for whistle blowing, companies using abusive language and behavior towards drivers,low pay, lack of home time. I was forced to quit a trucking company for being a whistle blower..

  • Essential? That’s a load of crap !!!
    Being designated “essential” is the worst thing that can happen to a driver. Absolutely the worst.
    Essential is the new synonym for expendable.
    Shippers need us to pick up their essential goods … but you can’t use the shipper’s washrooms.
    Receivers need us to deliver their essential goods … but you can’t use the receiver’s washrooms.
    The public needs us to deliver these goods to keep store shelves stocked … but you can’t use the store’s washrooms.
    Customs still needs us to bring in paperwork … but you still get to stand in crowded rooms, and you can’t use their washrooms.
    MTO still likes to dick around pretending they are protecting the public by inspecting brand new trucks and trailers … but you can’t use their washrooms.
    Tim Horton’s applauds truck drivers. They might even give you a free coffee … but you can’t use their washrooms.
    Petro-Pass will still sell you fuel, and coffee, and pre-packaged sandwiches … but you can’t use their washrooms.
    True that many places do provide a Johnny-on-the-Spot, but please don’t insult anyone’s intelligence by saying they are sanitary. You’d be less likely to catch something swimming in the Ganges River every day.
    Our carrier’s try to keep us supplied with latex gloves, hand sanitizers, lysol wipes & sprays, masks, and all the other protective products we need when they can get them, and when we run out on the road, we can’t buy them anywhere. We’re truck drivers. We’re not allowed in stores, or even banks for that matter.
    Why do we even have to pay for this stuff anyways? If we are so “essential” why isn’t the government paying for it? Why isn’t the government telling our carrier’s suppliers that we are a priority for getting this stuff?
    Just who the h*ll is protecting us out there anyways?
    It isn’t the police. We see Sunday drivers every day now, and they still like to cut us off and brake check us every chance they get.
    It isn’t the MTO. They’re still inspecting new trucks and writing bullsh*t tickets for chaffing air lines.
    It isn’t the provincial government.
    It isn’t the federal government.
    I think all truck drivers would agree that this is not a time for anyone to be making profit off a pandemic, but really, shouldn’t there be some sort of reward for the risk? The government is paying our friends and relatives to stay home. What are we getting to go out there every day and expose ourselves to a disease that can potentially kill us?
    Essential my a$$. We’re expendable. Nothing more, nothing less. Expendable.


    • Many truck drivers were getting treated poorly before the C 19 outbreak. Truck drivers are not in short supply at this point in time. Truck drivers need to able to break the rules to get loads to the people who need it. The only one thing that truck drivers that work over 12 hours per day or drive over 10 hours per day should be paid overtime. No trucking company should get more than $100,000 bailout money until all truck drivers wage complaints are settled. Any company getting cash grant from the government should only be able to bring in one foreign employee per year. Those getting loans 2 employees/year.

    • Pretty well summed up Barry. I agree with you on all of it! EVERY TRUCKER should be getting tax-free Bonus Pay from the government, for doing these very high risk tours of duty.
      And as a trucker’s wife: on behalf of my kids, my grandkids, our families, friends, neighbours & loved ones: WE all thank you for keeping us fed and our product shipments moving. None of us would survive without you.

    • Barry,
      Thanks for the stark candor of the harsh reality of driver treatment and conditions. It is absolutely shameful that trucking companies or the federal government isn’t providing an allowance for the necessary gloves, sanitizer and masks needed to protect drivers. I am so sorry this is happening to you all. If drivers are wearing gloves and/or have their own wipes to clean door handles and surfaces they touch, there is absolutely no reason that they should be banned from the washrooms of the places they are making the deliveries to if the rules of social distancing are being followed- not being allowed to use a bathroom after the time you’ve spent on the road is frankly inhumane and disgusting. Why truck drivers aren’t treated with the same respect as our other ‘frontline’ workers is beyond my comprehension. Without truck drivers, our situation would be even more dire if we had to do without the much needed supplies and everyday basics. My hat goes off to drivers far and wide Barry – thanks again for sharing and may my humble opinion get noticed somewhere for the sake of truck drivers.

    • That’s exactly right. 40 years I ve held my class 1 licence , and spent most of my life out on the roads of North America. Now suddenly I m important? But not important enough to be treated with a few amenities like a restroom ? I have to whizz outside beside my truck.
      It don t be late , they need their bananas.

    • Wow …that’s deep and the unadulterated truth so real it’s surreal and should be the headlines on every news journal that’s one reason why after 18 years otr loving what I do I gave it up went local and still dealing with the risk and one or two days work a week, it’s like throw the soldiers on front lines no resources no lifelines.

    • I’ve been out here 11 years and yes, there are places that won’t let you use their bathroom but its rare. I think you’re being a little melodramatic. Actually, I’m thankful I work in an industry that is “essential”. I get to keep working while many don’t. And that check the govt is sending out simply puts food on the table for most. Many people in the aftermath of this will have debt that will take quite some time to clear out. Be thankful..or, go stay home. No one is making you drive a truck.

    • Nobody is protecting us at my company.. no supplies.. nothing to sanitize.. no gloves.. no masks… slip seating… no protective measures at the BMW warehouse that i pick up parts at… yes…. i haul non essential parts for mostly passenger cars to dealerships… and the company is taking advantage of other aspects of transportation being essential… and claiming we are essential and taking zero measures to protect us…

      • Can confirm 110%. All the places I’ve delivered to for the last 4 years have adopted the “no outsiders in the restroom” approach.

    • Finally, someone who gets it. Like I’ve been saying for years, now’s the time for every driver to put in their 2 week advance notice that they are taking holidays. It’s what’s required by our companies. All do it at the same time. No strike, just holiday time. Trust me, the government’s will sit up and take notice. I don’t know about the rest of you drivers, but I’m so overdue for a raise it’s not funny.

    • I agree,after 41yrs,35 over the road I got tired off being a second class citizen. In november I up and quit the industry ,I’m only move I could have made.i have my dignity back!.

  • We are and always have been essential. But sadly only appreciated for a short time when they “really” need us most. Other than that, they complain and continue to over regulate us. Very sad indeed. Owner operators such as myself are the hardest hit in my opinion.

    • Good for you speaking out. I drove truck for sometime and understand what all you Drivers are talking about
      Your job is long hours and unappreciated by too many people.
      Thumbs up to y’all
      Be Safe & Take Care

  • Afternoon, I’m Josee, I’m truck driver, currently out of work, looking for work during this pandemic won’t be easy, staying home at the moment.

  • Canada’s paying their Canadian citizens $2,000 a month to stay home..
    The Canadian drivers are better off than the United States drivers right now

    • Ha,Ha ha,Im a Truck Driver crossing border daily, NY, NJ, and my wife has leukemia, If I will bring the Covid 19 to home, I will simply kill her. We don’t have to take quartine, but where Truck driver can take quartine, and we are not able to get even UE becouse you have to get ley off. This program is for government employees not for regular people

  • The trucking companies as a whole dont give a rats a$$ about their drivers, for proof just look at their current stance; there still slip seating drivers increasing the risk of infection ten fold. Some slip seat drivers may be in any number of teucks in the coarse of a week. My company just hired a new driver that they refer to as *my day partner*, so in the midst of self isolation and self distenceing its ok to put multiple drivers in the same truck. When i brought this concern to thier attention i was given a ziplok sanwich bag with 1/2 dozen disenfecting wipes. Not to mention the items being brought up by other posters on this site.

    If were so essential, which we are as everything will come to a complete stop if we ,the drivers, start getting sick, Then why isn’t any legislative body working to protect us from our own companies stupidity?

  • What happens when you are a owner operator with one truck and no employees? You can’t collect unemployment or get a loan. Guy’s like me will soon be out of bisness because the bills keep coming.

  • Danger pay should be implemented, truck or bus drivers are the first line, it is not greed, if a driver is putting his or her life on the line, they should be rewarded. Personally I don’t know a single company that will do just that.

  • Well all these grocery stores that need product and don’t have enough trucks why don’t they go and haul groceries I know some of the stores out of the cities can get there store shelves filled

  • Enjoying a surge ? What a joke the industry is actually playing games with the brokers to get rates so cheap that companies will make nothing …try researching your info a little harder …..rates are now 1.50 per mile or less ..

  • I am a 50+ year Trucker now retired Keep close tabs on the industry. Cooler heads have to prevail. The answer is tiered protection Top for Drs Nurses First Responders. Next level for cafe store clerks etc. Lower level for production line and Lowest for truckers and farm workers who are alone most of the time

  • Choose one
    1. Is this Toyota corolla virus?
    2. Is this corona beer virus?
    3. Or this is b.s. panic mass media virus?

  • You can still use the restroom at Pilots everywhere and they keep them clean well at least the ones I go to do

  • I cross border twice a week normally to Virginia and back to Mississauga Ontario.
    Yep all the places I go to dont allow you to use the restrooms.
    The thing that worries me the most is handling the signed bill of ladings and even my passport that the customs agent handles.
    I have to wipe my passport with disinfectant everytime and I’m running short of disinfectant, gloves etc. because I cant find them in the stores.
    Dont even get me going on the parking situation…Pennsylvania should be ashamed.
    They say the worst is yet to come!!
    I’m seriously thinking of just sitting it out and collect what I can from the government.
    The risk to myself and family is not worth it.

  • So some drivers are going through the same thing a lot of others around the world are, and this is newsworthy?
    Welcome to the new world.

  • Look I see the situation and I know is going to be worse why don’t we stay together and fight this problem then make it worse everybody needs a job and we have families what I’m trying to say is don’t let go the professional drivers we need them work with them give them a part time 32 hours and let the unemployment take care the rest in this moments like in war we should be together this is viral for us and the economy tks

  • I know working together we can make yes we can of we survive wwII we can survive this coronavirus let’s be smart don’t give up yet we are United let’s make The United States of America great again

  • How about all you Canadian drivers STAY North of the border and let AMERICAN drivers drive in AMERICA!

  • I’m no trucker but my father was. I know first hand what sacrifices and at times dangerous work you do daily, rain or shine. This message has nothing to do with anything just saying Thank You all for supporting so many with what you do so well.

    Joe Irigoyen

  • There lays the problem. It’s over boys. Once the government weeded out all of us old school guys. Now they can manipulate you and do as they please. This was their intention as of about 10 years ago. You can have it. It’s all yours. I’m speaking for myself and I’ll tell you this. The way trucking has been for the last ten years, I’m o6t of here. I never signed up for this crap 40 years ago. Blame it on the flu? Bulls hit, you all starred this and it sure shucks to sow what you r3ap, eh?

  • Hospitals, beer companies, beverage companies are looking for extra drivers right now u just have to physically work for those of u who are not use to moving your buds and just drive this is not for u.

  • Well so sorry to here of the situation in Canada i think that we are going in that same direction, in England i have not heard much on the trucking side but a lot of people are out of work temporarily.
    Good luck to all you truckers over in canada and lets hope things get better.

  • How do you know he’s not telling the truth? Are you a driver? If so, maybe YOU haven’t experienced what he’s talking about, and that’s great, but that doesn’t mean someone else HASN’T.

  • Yes i was doing a pick up at a warehouse today ,i was allowed into the warehouse so i waited in the cab of my truck while they loaded it ,funny they came out and got me when the last skid would not fit and had to be hand bombed they let me in warehouse to do that!

  • It is good to see that other companies are helping driver’s who are being laid off. This story is good to hear about how the trucking industry is doing and how the virus is affecting the industry.

  • This virus is another silent killer..Please folks ,stay home dont gather. This could kill you or your kids.

  • We bought our own truck last year and are already struggling. Prices went up a little bit now it’s going down like crazy… it looks like brokers are taking advantage out of this and some truckers are agreeing with the prices they get… that should stop… the price you get for loads at the moment are even worse as before the virus started?? So how could we survive if brokers taking advantage and some truckers think they can make money although they are not knowing what they are doing with accepting…. to give an example….a load from Toronto to New Brunswick for $1500 dollars?? That’s just $1.00 a mile… try to do something about that… otherwise their won’t be any o/o left after this crisis…

  • I was laid off March 20th when Toyota shut down. And so far the last I’ve heard it will won’t be until the 20th of April before I’m supposed to go back to work if I’m lucky. That’s if they go back to work then, who knows they could announce another two weeks just before then. Be safe out there

  • I assert that the Coronavirus event should spur change in the transportation/logistics environment … from bottom to the top. Warehouse workers, dispatchers, and drivers are asking, “If we are so essential, why are we so poorly paid?”

    It is the duty of transportation and logistics executives to represent themselves and their companies interests to the shipper marketplace in a sustainable fashion. If the executives won’t put into play a sustainable model, or if they continue to work slavishly for the likes of Walmart and Amazon, only to let the s*&t roll downhill, they are doing no favors for their employees or vendors. I guarantee you, shippers LOVE the sacrifice we transport people are making in service to their profits! Transport has been bleeding from the carotid artery since deregulation. There is no more blood to give. Your thoughts?

    NIKE, Inc. online store offers “Free standard shipping and -30-day free returns, only with NikePlus. Standard / Arrives 2-4 Business Days.” Given your average NIKE, Inc. pair of shoes weighs approximately 3.0 pounds in a box 11.5 x 7.0 x 3.75 (l x w x h). That’s 309 cu inches. In a 40 foot container, you can fit 10,000 shoe boxes on board. At $ 85.00 per pair of shoes, this container is worth $ 850,000.00 on the retail level. This container is being shipped across 12 time zones.

    IF the average LAX/LB port truck driver on an owner operator contract makes $ 200.00 per pull between Long Beach and a warehouse in Commerce, that’s being generous. The distance between Long Beach ICTF and Commerce CA is 17 miles. Considering congestion and LA freeway traffic jams, a port driver can make one turn between pier and warehouse 2 hours IF the day is being good to the driver. A port driver might get three turns daily in this fashion if nothing goes wrong. The port driver’s economic role in this $ 85.00 retail transaction is 0.00023529 per cent of the entire container transaction. Rather than fight for better pay from the shipping industry, trucking executives would rather eat the owner-operators alive. This is highly unstable.