Conference Board says gap between supply of drivers and demand for them could reach 25,000 by 2020
OTTAWA—The Conference Board of Canada is warning the Canadian economy may take a hit in the coming years due to a projected shortfall of truck drivers across the country.
According to the think tank, the number of drivers approaching retirement age is reaching the tens of thousands, but the number of young people and new Canadians entering the industry is waning.
In fact, a new Conference Board report says the gap between the supply of drivers and the demand for them could reach 25,000 by 2020.
“The food we eat, the goods that we enjoy and even the homes we live in are in large part delivered by trucks,” principal research associate Vijay Gill said in a statement.
“The inability to meet a huge demand for drivers could be costly for the trucking industry, consumer goods and the Canadian economy.”
With 90 per cent of food and consumer goods in Canada and 60 per cent of the nation’s trade with the United States moved by truck, the lack of newcomers to the industry could have a ripple effect across Canada.
According to the Conference Board, the trucking industry’s real gross domestic product is expected to increase from $17-billion to $21.4-billion in by the next decade, with much of the demand tied to manufacturing, wholesale trade and retail.
The industry employs approximately 300,000 drivers—almost 1.5 per cent of the national labour force—but struggles to attract drivers for the for-hire industry.
With a significant drop in the participation of young people aged 15 to 24 over the past decade, the average truck driver’s age has spiked from 40 years old in 1996 to 44 in 2006.
The report, Understanding the Truck Driver Supply and Demand Gap and Implications for the Canadian Economy, was funded by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, a federation of provincial trucking associations.