Labour Market Snapshot – October 2021

2021 Employer Survey: Top Employer Challenge – Truck Driver Labour Shortages

By: Tanara Ferguson


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, trucking and logistics businesses have faced many challenges including: increased health and safety regulations, supply chain backlogs, fluctuating demand for their services, rising input prices, and changing workforce needs.

As vaccines have become available and the economy recovers, what will the new normal look like for our industry?

This past summer, as part of Trucking HR Canada’s (THRC) labour market information (LMI) work, we surveyed employers to better understand how the sector’s employment and business activity is changing, the challenges companies are now facing, and the supports the sector will need moving forward.

These employer surveys are an important component of this work – work which includes our specialized analysis of publicly available sources, including Statistics Canada’s census and other labour force surveys, augmented with data directly from employers to fill in the gaps.

Here, are the results.

1 – Top Employer Challenge – Truck Driver Labour Shortages

Over 75% of employers expect a shortage of truck drivers to be a challenge in the next 6 months, over 50% indicating that it will be their top challenge. Recruiting truck drivers was also identified as the most challenging HR task. Labour shortages for non-truck driver positions is also top of mind with 46% of respondents indicating that this too would be a challenge.

2 – Companies carrying non-essential* goods had lower revenues in 2020

51% of companies experienced a decrease in revenues in 2020 compared to 2019, with businesses carrying non-essential goods more likely to experience that decrease – 65%, compared to those companies carrying essential goods – 38%.

* Non-essential companies are defined as those for which essential goods account for less than 50% of transported goods. In turn, essential companies are defined as those for which essential goods make up more than 50% of what their company transports.

3 – Truck driver employment is rebounding

Truck driver employment is rebounding.  Amongst respondents a 5.3% decrease in truck driver employment was reported between 2019 and 2020, it then rebounds by 1.7% in 2021, 3.7% below its 2019 level.

4 – Companies continue to struggle with driver shortages

Of the survey respondents, 67% were unable to fill all the driver positions they needed this past year. Larger companies struggled more with over 80% of those with revenues over $25 million unable to fill their driver positions.

Employers indicated that lower numbers of applicants, applicants with low levels of experience, increasing retirement rates and increasing employee initiated turn over were factors that contributed to the shortage.

5 – Smaller companies have been slower to recover

41% of smaller companies (those with revenues less then $5 million) reported business activity below pre-pandemic levels compared to only 26% of companies with revenues above $5 million.

On average, companies with business levels below pre-pandemic levels (31% of respondents) expect to return to pre-pandemic levels in 14 months.

As we continue to work in supporting employers in meeting their HR challenges, here are some practical solutions that can help:

Our Career ExpressWay program has several financial incentives that can help. Our youth driver training subsidies, wage subsidies, and new student work placement program directly support the onboarding of younger workers.

And, new this fall, THRC will be releasing five resource guides to help industry employers and HR managers tackle the most pressing HR issues.

Call to participate – Are you interested in exploring new solutions to old, yet ongoing industry problems? To have these discussions, THRC is assembling a group of diverse, forward-thinking, innovators and leaders. To learn more visit: National Trucking HR Transformative Change Group | Trucking HR

Want to learn more? Visit our website today at and be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter while you are there.  Watch for upcoming information sessions too that can help you access our financial incentives.

Plan now for a healthy economic rebound

By: Angela Splinter

May 11, 2021

We’re all pining for post-pandemic life. As vaccine rollouts make this possible, and we fill offices, restaurants, stadiums and hotels again, Canada needs a healthy trucking and logistics industry to help carry the economy.

We’re responsible for moving more than $850 billion in goods each year and employ more than 650,000 workers. What’s more, trucking and logistics businesses support virtually every other industry in Canada, including manufacturing, construction, farming, oil and gas, forestry and more.

COVID-19 has both confirmed and emphasized that truck transportation is one of Canada’s most important commercial and economic sectors. It’s essential that we’re operating at full strength.

Labour challenges

According to our latest economic assessments and labour market information (LMI), the pandemic has only made HR management a higher priority especially when it comes to over-the-road truck drivers. Here’s what the data tells us:

  • Demand for drivers: We project truck driver vacancies in Canada to surpass 25,000 by 2023, a 25% increase compared to 2019. We expect vacancies to rise for other occupations as well. By 2023, the need for drivers is expected to be greater than our baseline pre-COVID-19 projections due to increased demand for trucking services as the economy reopens.


  • Demographic changes: The average worker in trucking and logistics is older than in other industries, with 27% of workers over the age of 55 compared to 21% in the general labour force. On average, 13,675 workers retire from trucking each year. Our aging workforce further fuels the labour shortage.


  • New entries: Workers coming into the industry are largely made up of new entries or entries from other occupations. In fact, about 54,000 inexperienced workers are expected to enter the sector each year to 2023, a signal that training needs may be significant.


  • Labour supply gaps remain: The supply of workers in our industry is only projected to grow by about 5,600 people per year. This net growth is a function of inflows (new entries and entries from other occupations, immigration and non-permanent residents) and outflows of workers (retirements and other attrition). Importantly, this growth will not be enough to meet the expected employment demand over the same period.

What does it all mean? We need skilled workers. How do we get there? Let’s take a look:

More financial incentives are coming. Apply now and avoid delays later

Our Career ExpressWay Program is gearing up for more wage subsidies designed to get more young people to work in our industry. The program offers financial incentives specifically for truck transportation and logistics employers. The time has never been better for us to recruit young workers. They need work, and we have work.

As with all government programs, there is some paperwork involved. Get pre-approved today and be ahead of the competition come summer. With wage subsidies ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per young person, the extra time is worth it.

To learn more, visit our website and/or reach out to John today at [email protected].

Workplace harassment and violence requirements: Comply now so you can focus on other HR matters later

All federally regulated employers are required to comply with Canada’s new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations that came into force in January of this year.  Employers need to have proper policies in place, a designated recipient in place, and more.  Your entire workforce needs to complete compliant training by December 31, 2021.  All this to say, it’s a little more complicated than you may think.

As an employer, you need to:

  • Complete a risk assessment and implement preventive measures
  • Create emergency procedures to protect staff from harassment and violence
  • Prepare and communicate a compliant workplace policy
  • Be ready to receive complaints and follow the required resolution process
  • Provide information and support to targets of harassment and violence
  • Have a designated recipient who is specially trained on the regulations
  • Ensure that all managers and supervisors receive specific training given their role
  • Train all employees on the new regulations
  • Ensure your record keeping is in line with Labour Canada requirements

Our website and on-line learning centre have policy templates, how-to guides, checklists and all the on-line training resources you need. Our resources are free and the training is cost effective. Developed in partnership with Labour Canada, the Canadian Trucking Alliance and all provincial associations, employment lawyers, labour representatives and more, Trucking HR Canada has you covered. Feel to reach out to Michella today at [email protected].

Top Fleet Employers

Our Top Fleet Employers are leaders in promoting a positive image of trucking and logistics and offering great places to work. We are proud to see this program grow each year, with 77 fleets recognized this year.

Stay tuned for our 2021 best practices report that will showcase recruitment and retention initiatives that work for our Top Fleets, which means they may work for you, too.  And if you are a leader in terms of your HR approaches, contact us today to learn how you can be recognized while also accessing many other program perks, including pre-approval for wage subsidies.

Feel free to reach out to Alero at [email protected].

We all want our industry’s employees and businesses to be in good health physically, mentally and financially. Canada’s economy needs us more than ever.

Taking some of these steps today will help get your business on track.

Understanding Canada’s Truck Driver Shortage

By: Angela Splinter

March 1, 2021


Is there a shortage of truck drivers in Canada? This question often sparks a heated debate—and more questions.

Is the labour market so tight right now that there are too few people to drive trucks? Are employers not doing enough to make the job attractive? With all the driver training, licensing, and safety requirements, is the bar too high for anyone to qualify?


They’re good questions, but whether there is a driver shortage isn’t a matter of opinion. The data provides the answer.


Trucking HR Canada’s Labour Market Information (LMI) provides ongoing actionable intelligence pertaining to the supply and demand of labour. Our own economist conducts regular analysis of Statistics Canada data, labour force data, our own surveys, and more, ensuring an accurate assessment of our industry’s needs.

Here is what we know:


  • There are nearly 20,000 vacant truck driver positions in Canada.
  • 61% of employers report they can’t find all the drivers they need.
  • 7.4% of all truck driver jobs are unfilled compared to 3.3% in other non-driver jobs.
  • The unemployment rate among truck drivers is much lower than the rest of the workforce. (6.2% for truck drivers as compared to 9.8% for the rest of the workforce). However, if every currently unemployed truck driver were hired into a vacant position, there would still be more than 11,000 unfilled jobs.


All economic indicators show a shortage of drivers. What there is no shortage of, however, are opinions and offers of quick fixes stemming from high-level politicians (who do not necessarily understand our industry dynamics) all the way to drivers themselves.


This is an ongoing, complex issue.

Truck fleets are having to adjust to freight conditions that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago. With e-commerce, the number of regional and local driving jobs is exploding, creating opportunities for drivers to work closer to home. Long-haul driving jobs today have a much higher vacancy rate than short-haul—9.4% compared to 5.9%.

Regulations play a role. The required use of ELDs and speed limiters means that some fleets have to add capacity in order to cover the same number of miles and maintain their service levels.

Training is an issue. Every year, about 28,000 new (inexperienced) drivers enter the industry to replace drivers who retired or otherwise left their jobs. These new workers require entry-level and specialized training before they can even start to drive independently and be ready to take the place of those experienced drivers who are leaving. This is a challenge compounded by the  pandemic.

Of course, there are always experienced drivers who are looking for work but can’t find a job that works for them.

So yes, there’s a shortage of drivers. And changes in the economy and freight markets haven’t made things easier with the passage of time.


We clearly need better ways of matching up job seekers, both new and experienced, with available work. Up-to-date and accurate LMI data, like the kind provided in this article, can go a long way toward creating a common understanding of the imbalances between the supply and demand for workers.


Trucking HR Canada is committed to monitoring and providing access to these important indicators as we support the development of evidence-based solutions to our industry’s challenges.


I invite you to use the resources on our site to help manage the pressure you may be feeling as you look for drivers. If you have questions, please reach out to [email protected] to learn more.



Post COVID, Trucking Still Needs to Consider the Driver Shortage

Post COVID, Trucking Still Needs to Consider the Driver Shortage

By Angela Splinter

Before COVID-19 hit, the Canadian trucking and logistics sector was already experiencing an acute driver shortage.

It was literally the day before the World Health Organization designated coronavirus a global pandemic that Trucking HR Canada released The Road Ahead: Addressing the trucking and logistics industry labour shortages.

Our report sounds the alarm on many fronts: high driver job vacancies within the industry, low unemployment generally, and the need to reach young people and women in order to expand and diversify the driver pool. And government has to do a better job partnering with industry and investing in training and access to wage subsidies programs for young people.

Just when we thought our research was done, the effects of COVID-19 on employment meant we had more work to do.

In May of this year we did just that.

We again surveyed industry employers directly to get primary data on the labour market impacts of coronavirus and applied additional economic modeling.

This is important information. The economy is preparing to rebound, and the government says it will look to provide tailored solutions for employers.

Timely, accurate, and credible labour market intelligence is the key to reassessing the industry’s needs and finalizing recommendations for moving forward.

Let’s take a look at where we stand:

Employment Forecasts

For the first two quarters of 2020, employment in the trucking and logistics industry is expected to shrink by 10.4% for a loss of up to 72,000 jobs.

Long-haul and regional truck drivers are especially hard hit. All told, the number of drivers is expected to contract by 10.9%, which equates to 34,700 jobs or roughly one in two pandemic-related job losses in the industry.

The increasing shift toward online shopping means that delivery and courier drivers are expected to experience a slightly below-average decline in employment with an anticipated 7,500 job losses, mostly in retail and wholesale trade.

Cost of COVID-19

Employment in trucking and logistics is tied to economic activity.  And, the trucking industry expected to lose $3.2 billion in revenue this year. The latest forecast of truck driver employment is 296,600 in 2020, roughly 21,000 below our pre-COVID estimate of 317,600 for 2020.

The labour shortages the trucking and logistics sector was experiencing pre-COVID-19 should moderate in the near-term, however, as demand recovers, vacancies within the sector will return as early as 2022, especially among truck drivers.


While drivers remain in a slightly different position from the rest of the industry, the projections indicate that trucking and logistics employment will stabilize by the first quarter of 2022 while remaining at approximately 1% below pre-COVID-19 levels through 2023.

The truck driver occupation is projected to experience a relatively fast recovery. Demand for drivers is expected to stabilize by the fourth quarter of 2021 and attain or possibly exceed pre-pandemic labour market projections by 2023.

However, anticipated retirements and other labour losses by 2023 indicate that this demand is unlikely to be fully met over the next three years. This important and timely research has confirmed that COVID-19 has simply stalled the driver shortage and has not negated it.

The question is whether we’ll have the perennial driver recruitment and retention challenges, including an aging demographic and need to reach women and younger employees, over the next three years.

Essentially, we could be right back where we started. At a time when many fleets are working to get back to their business of supporting the flow of goods through Canada’s supply chain, those tailored solutions our government keeps talking about cannot come fast enough.

Survey Says: HR Managers Take Varied Approach to COVID-19

Survey Says: HR Managers Take Varied Approach to COVID-19

June 16, 2020 by Angela Splinter

Every employer across the country is feeling the impact of COVID-19 in its own unique way. But for HR professionals at truck fleets and logistics companies, they all have one challenge in common: making sure workers and especially truck drivers feel safe and secure in their jobs.

Trucking HR recently surveyed carriers, 3PLs, and freight brokers about the measures they have taken since the pandemic came to Canada and what they plan to do in the next three to six months. Let’s take a look:


Seventy-six percent of the employers we surveyed said they have laid off workers due to COVID-19, with 83% of those layoffs categorized as temporary. Layoffs of truck drivers were more prevalent in the short-haul segment and among employed drivers than contractors or owner-operators.

Dispatchers and mechanics were also affected, with 10% of employees laid off in each occupation.

Notably, employers that have already laid off workers said they are more likely to continue doing so over the next three to six months.

Employee-initiated departures

According to our survey, the most common reasons for leaves of absence and other types of employee-initiated departures were self-quarantine; the employee or a member of the household is at a high risk of contracting COVID-19; and family caregiving. Each reason was evenly cited among employers.

The combination of layoffs and employee-initiated departures reduced total truck driver employment across our sample by 11.4%.

Of particular concern to HR professionals is whether these employees have left temporarily or if we have lost them for good.

Reduced compensation

Not surprisingly, many employers have cut worker pay due to declining revenue. Roughly one in four employers in our survey have frozen salaries or wages for truck drivers. This measure was more common among companies transporting non-essential goods (31%) than those transporting essential items (15%).

Pay increases have been rare—13% of survey respondents said they are paying workers a premium due to COVID-19. Others are offering non-monetary rewards including flextime, child-care, and time off.

Another 15% of employers said they have provided truck drivers with monetary rewards such as gift cards.

Improving the image

The million-dollar question for our industry is this: has COVID-19 changed the stigma around working in the trucking and logistics sector?

The views are mixed.

On one hand, employers are divided about whether COVID-19 has made the job of truck driving more or less appealing.

While 35% of employers expect truck driving to be more attractive to prospective employees relative to pre-COVID, 23% believe the job will be less attractive, citing the attention brought to dismal working conditions and wages.

On the other hand, 29% of employers believe that COVID-19 has made trucking and logistics somewhat or much more attractive to other types of prospective employees (excluding truck drivers). This compares to only 4% who believe the attractiveness of the sector has declined for these potential employees.

Challenges ahead

It is interesting to compare these finding to another Trucking HR Canada study done in partnership with Abacus data where 54% of Canadians overall had a positive impression of trucking companies.

The Abacus study also showed that 85% of Canadians think a strong trucking sector is necessary for the economy to be healthy.

Yet barriers remain.

Despite the recognition brought to truck drivers for their essential role in keeping supply chains moving, people are still not rushing to join the industry. Just 35% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 said they would consider a job in trucking and logistics.

And when we look at the huge government relief programs available, namely the Canadian emergency wage subsidy (CEWS), our survey of employers showed that among employers that have not applied for CEWS, the vast majority (85%) have not experienced the eligible revenue reduction to qualify for the subsidy.

At a time when trucking and logistics companies are working hard to survive, they are also essential to the survival of their customers. We cannot lose sight of the fact that our industry needs a level playing field when it comes to accessing government programs and initiatives for employees.

We have seen what supply chains look like when Canada is in the middle of a health crisis. We need a financially strong and resilient transportation industry so HR professionals can keep their truck drivers safe and prepared for the challenges ahead.


Understanding the Dispatcher

October 21, 2019 by By Craig Faucette

The trucking industry devotes a lot of attention to the recruitment and retention of drivers. This makes sense, as truck drivers represent more than 45% of the industry’s workers.

But other occupations in trucking and logistics deserve consideration, too.

Our report, “Labour Market Information: Interim Report September 2019,” profiles a wide range of job types, including technicians, material handlers, office administrators, human resources staff, and supervisors.

One of the most essential occupations is dispatchers, who make up about 2% of the workforce but play a substantial and unique role in the industry.

From the 2016 Census data, which is the most current data available from Statistics Canada, we know:

  • There are 16,730 dispatchers working in Canada’s trucking and logistics industry
  • Regionally, 12% of these dispatchers are in B.C.; 15% in Alberta; 7% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; 39% in Ontario; 22% in Quebec; and 5% in Atlantic Canada
  • Women make up 39% of the dispatcher workforce
  • 19% of dispatchers are newcomers to Canada
  • 19% are visible minorities
  • 4% of dispatchers are Indigenous

As well, there is a strong cohort of millennials-31% of dispatchers are between the ages of 15 and 35. On the other end of the spectrum, 17% of dispatchers are over the age of 55.

Dispatchers tend to be educated. Nearly 42% of dispatchers have their high school diploma and an additional 34% have post-secondary education.

Put the Data to Work

Employers can apply this Census data to dispatcher recruitment and retention, shaping their policies and practices to better support their staff.

For example, with 17% of dispatchers over the age of 55, employers may want to pay closer attention to retirement rates among their workers, and potentially focus their recruitment efforts on replacing those retiring workers.

With 31% of dispatchers between the ages of 15 and 34, employers may want to place more attention on maternal/parental leave policies or flexible work arrangements in order to appeal to this important demographic.

Another issue to consider is how technology is affecting dispatchers and the requirements of the job.

Will new technology change the need for dispatchers, which could result in employment levels going up or down? Will it require job candidates with more training or education? We will continue to monitor the skill requirements and changes within the labour market as technology continues to affect how the industry works.

Help Us Complete the Picture

The available data provides a snapshot of who is currently working within the industry. It gives us a clear view of their demographic makeup, education levels, and where people are working.

But government surveys provide only part of the labour-market picture.

We are currently asking employers to complete a more focused, industry-specific survey that will help us fill in some of the blanks in the StatsCan data. We need as many employers as possible to complete it so we can ensure the information we report is as accurate and representative of the industry as possible.

Our survey will be open until the end of October and can be accessed here.

If you are an employer or work in HR for a truck fleet, we hope you can take time to complete this survey.

As we continue our labour market information project, we will be releasing more data as it becomes available, along with our final report in Spring 2020. Subscribe to our newsletter to ensure you remain on top of all of the updates.

LMI Interim Report

Millennials Have Drive 2

Millennials Have Drive