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CTA study predicts driver shortage to be worse than previously thought

TORONTO, Ont. – A new study by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) reveals that the driver shortage in the Canadian for-hire trucking industry is escalating quicker that previously believed.

Updating the CTA’s 2011 report, which predicted a 33,000 shortfall by 2020, the new study – ‘Understanding the Truck Driver Supply and Demand Gap’ – says there will be a shortage of 34,000 drivers by 2024, reflecting an increase in demand of 25,000 and a decrease in supply of 9,000.

The study adds that the shortage could rise to 48,000 due to what it called ‘plausible combinations of different trends that could affect industry demand, labour productivity and occupational attractiveness.’

Driver demand is expected to increase most in Ontario, followed by British Columbia, with the greatest gap between demand and supply in Ontario and Quebec.

CTA president and CEO David Bradley said the study “should be a wake-up call and reminder to everyone – carriers, shippers and governments – that while the current lackluster economic activity may be taking some of the edge off the driver shortage in the immediate-term, the underlying trend points to a long-term chronic shortage of truck drivers.

“When you consider that almost everything that people consume on a daily basis, or that serve as inputs into the production process, is shipped by truck, the economic implications of a driver shortage are potentially immense.”

The study also points out what it called a ‘demographic cliff,’ with nearly 169,000 drivers employed in the for-hire sector in 2014 and the average age continuing to increase more rapidly than the Canadian labour force in general.

By 2024, the study predicts the average truck driver age to be over 49, up from 47 in 2014 and 44 in 2006. Approximately 17,000 drivers are between the age of 60 and 65.

“As the ratio of younger to older workers continues to increase for the labour force as a whole, it is clear that the trucking industry will have to reverse this trend, and fast,” said the study’s authors.

Between 2006 and 2011, drivers between the age of 25 and 34 dropped from 18% to below 15%, while those between 55 and 64 increased from 17% to 22%. Immigrants make up 20% of truck drivers, also smaller than the Canadian workforce as a whole.

Men continue to make up the vast proportion of drivers at 97%, compared to 52% of all employees in Canada.

“The trucking industry and the companies that make up the trucking industry are not the only stakeholders that have an interest in maintaining the sustainability of the long-haul trucking model,” the study said. “The industry’s customers (shippers) and their customers’ customers (the general public) will also be directly affected, negatively or positively by the trucking industry’s ability to rise to the challenge.”


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1 Comment » for CTA study predicts driver shortage to be worse than previously thought
  1. Jake Goertzen says:

    The “driver shortage ” is being portrayed by the CTA as some sort of natural calamity that has befallen the trucking industry similar to an endless drought on farmers.

    It never seems to occur to Mr. Bradley, head of CT A, that just maybe truck drivers are not paid a fair wage? How many truck drivers have ever been paid overtime? When you calculate a truck driver’s pay on an hourly basis, it often equals less than minimum wage!

    So the industry’s leaders cry to the government for more handouts and assistance in recruiting foreign workers. This age old scenario has played out over and over like a broken vinyl record from the 80’s which is coincidentally when I started driving truck.

    I have been hearing this golden oldie for so long I am convinced these people enjoy living in the past.

    Wages for truck drivers need to rise a minimum of 20%, otherwise, the old tunes from the 80’S will simply stay on repeat.

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