NORTH BAY – Don Goodwill, president of Manitoulin Transport, and the trucking industry as a whole, is hopeful a new provincial government program being provided through the provincial government will help develop new truck drivers.
“There is a truck driver shortage throughout North America,” said Mr. Goodwill this past Monday. He pointed out the shortages range from 10 to as high as 50 at any point in time throughout the network. “This is due somewhat to a lot of drivers retiring each year and the problem starts to get tougher and tougher.”
“There are also barriers to entry into the industry,” said Mr. Goodwill. “Forty years ago baby boomers had learned the skills of operating trucks and vehicles on the farm properly and could go into the industry; now drivers have to go through more stringent training especially when they are first time truck drivers-which probably deters some people.”
“And something that I found out last week is that the number of young people getting a licence of any kind, even a personal driver’s licence, is decreasing,” said Mr. Goodwill. “This also means of course that these young people are less likely to choose truck driving as a career. So the pool of potential drivers becomes smaller.”
“Yes, we are facing this problem of finding truck drivers across our network,” said Mr. Goodwill.
The president of the Ontario Trucking Association, Stephen Laskowski has indicated trucking companies have a shortage of about 20,000 truck drivers per year in Ontario, and the average age of a truck driver in Canada is over 55 years of age, and even higher in Northern Ontario.
Mr. Goodwill noted that the province has put forward a program that it hopes will curb this driver shortage. “They have put in place changes to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program. The OINP allows businesses to nominate immigrants for permanent residence to fill labour pool gaps. “It can lead to citizenship for foreign workers and potentially long term drivers. Other provinces in Canada have this program in place, but Ontario didn’t have this program until now.”
Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade outlined the changes to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) recently at a press conference held at the Manitoulin Transport Terminal in North Bay. The program allows for trucking companies to recruit drivers from another country, and this provides them the pathway to permanent residency and more importantly, fill the labour shortage.