Celebrate National Trucking Week by Telling Our Story & Community Involvement: OTA Chair

By Wendell Erb, The Erb Group

Almost every labour sector in Ontario is undoubtedly struggling to find good, qualified people; but, arguably, none more urgently than the trucking industry, which has shortages at positions across the board – from drivers, dispatchers, mechanics, or the countless other professionals that comprise our organizations.

The pandemic has opened a lot of eyes about the labour shortages our economy faces and has reminded all business leaders that people are priority number one. Simply put, without people we don’t have a business. Trucks and terminals are crucial to our operations, but it has become abundantly clear to everyone that our people are the engine that run our organizations’ success.

Like many in the industry, we at Erb Transport have implemented several measures to recruit and retain our employees. National Trucking Week (Sept 4-10) is yet another reminder as to why we should be celebrating our staff’s critical role to our businesses. But it’s equally important that these invaluable contributions are not lost on us throughout the rest of the year and that our people and their efforts are recognized more than just one week in early September.

Beyond competitive pay; modern, comfortable equipment; and reliable human resource support, another recruitment tool being put into action to attract youth to our sector, is a company’s commitment to social responsibility and involvement in charitable efforts. Today’s youth often consider many things when choosing their employer, and the level of engagement in charitable programs and events and how the company is perceived in the community and amongst their peers is quickly becoming an influential factor.

Trucks for Change (T4C) – an affiliate partner of the Ontario Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance – is the main driver of charitable efforts of trucking companies in Canada. One way to showcase the big hearts of those in our great industry is during National Trucking Week is to get in touch with T4C and inquire what you can do to help Canadians in need. Not only will your efforts benefit your community, but I’m convinced it will amplify your community engagement and help attract enthusiastic new people to your company. A win-win for all involved.

Next, call your local MP and MPP during National Trucking Week. Only about a quarter of Ontarians reach out to their MPPs each year. The industry needs you to get in front of our political leaders and tell our story; sing our praises and highlight or challenges.

In Ontario, the Ford Government has been very supportive of the trucking industry. But this shouldn’t be an excuse to not be politically active. As we move forward as an industry, we need to be more vocal and continuously ensure every member of Queen’s Park understands our sector’s needs, such as how can work together to deal with the labour shortage, truck safety, ELD implementation and the growing scourge of Driver Inc. in this province.

We meet with current and potential customers and suppliers regularly to market and grow our businesses, so why don’t we do this with our political leaders at Queen’s Park and Ottawa? To demand accountability for government action or inaction we must create an environment where MPs or MPPs are aware of the challenges and situations that confront us. As trucking company owners and operators, you and your employees are the lifeblood the supply chain and, by extension, the economy.  Do not short sell how influential you can be. It cannot be overstated just how impactful an informal face-to-face meeting with decision makers at the provincial and federal level can be.

The Ontario Trucking Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance are in the process of assembling communications packages to assist the industry in educating political officials on the issues and challenges confronting our industry.

So, please, this National Trucking Week and the weeks afterward, get out there and tell your story and help cultivate change in favour of our sector, rather than taking a back seat and hoping for the best. If we know from experience that a passive approach won’t work for our businesses in a hypercompetitive market grappling with a sea of information and misinformation. So, indeed, we can’t expect it to work in the political arena either.

I want to wish everyone in our industry a happy National Trucking Week and thank each and every worker who has made Ontario’s trucking industry one of the most successful and efficient in the world.

Scroll to Top