Pandemic-Related Challenges to Global Supply Chain Exacerbated by Labour Shortages faced by Trucking Industry: CTA-Nanos

Pressing labour shortages faced by the Canadian trucking industry are creating additional challenges to an already stressed global supply chain. An aging workforce, barriers to appropriate training, the image of the industry and a lack of support are all contributing to the difficulties faced by the Canadian trucking industry to keep goods flowing within a stressed and recovering global supply chain.

In a recent research study undertaken by Nanos Research on behalf of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, senior executives within the Canadian trucking industry were consulted to provide their views on business trends, operational challenges and regulatory issues and government agendas. The strong consensus is that labour shortages are a continued challenge for the industry. The issue has only become more prominent as pressures grow in response to a recovering global supply chain in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent report by Trucking HR Canada confirms that in the second quarter of 2021 there were over 18,000 truck driver vacancies; along with 72% of employers reporting that the recruitment of truck drivers is a significant business challenge.

“The response of the Canadian trucking industry over the past 18 months during the height of the pandemic has demonstrated how critical the trucking industry is to the life blood of the Canadian economy,” says Canadian Trucking Alliance Chair, Jean Claude Fortin. “At the same time, we’re facing labour challenges which are threatening to impede the industry’s ability to effectively contribute to the economic recovery that is presently underway.”

The study issued by Nanos Research is an ongoing consultation with the CTA. Together, the industry executives consulted for the survey moved 11.7 million loads, operated 67,000 trucks operated, and employed over 70,000 people.

“The trucking sector study suggests growing labour shortage concern which may impact supply chains,” says Nik Nanos, Chief Data Scientist of Nanos Research.

To help alleviate the driver shortage and attract a new generation of workers to the industry, CTA will soon be unveiling largest image/public relations campaign in its history. Trucking is Changing – a national social media campaign highlighting the changing face of the industry to young people – will hit the internet this month.

Carriers suggest that an opportunity to significantly improve truck and highway safety is to focus federal and provincial enforcement resources on the main identifiable threat to highway safety – carriers that sidestep all regulations as a business strategy.

These unsafe fleets – referred to by the industry as Driver Inc. companies – target ill-prepared and inexperienced drivers who, without much knowledge about industry rules and regulations, are easily taken advantage of by unscrupulous trucking companies. The growing numbers of Driver Inc. fleets are fueled by the underground economy; abuse their labour by not paying payroll taxes, workers’ compensation or employees vacation/overtime payments; and force drivers to work without regard to hours-of-service rules. Some of these drivers may also be new to Canada and the abusive operator they work for often take advantage of the fact they are unknowledgeable of Canadian labour and safety laws. These Driver Inc. drivers are then provided trucks which may not be properly inspected for safety, are uninsured or covered by fraudulent insurance; and in many cases, have had their emissions controls removed.

To protect new arrivals to Canada who want to make Canada their home and work in the trucking industry, CTA is advocating a Trusted or Known Employer Program. These workers should only be permitted to work for compliant fleets that uphold Canadian labour and safety standards so they and their families can thrive and enjoy all the benefits of our great nation, says CTA. The Liberal Government’s policy platform is committed to a Trusted Employer system to streamline application processes for Canadian companies hiring temporary foreign workers to fill labour shortages.

CTA is calling on the Government of Canada, provinces, and major private and public sector buyers of transportation services to continue working with CTA in improving truck safety by targeting enforcement resources where it matters most – eliminating the practice of Driver Inc., and the implementation of a Trusted/Known Employer Program for all trucking immigration programs.

The full report is available to CTA members upon request. Members can contact jonathan.blackham@cantruck.ca to obtain a copy.

 

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