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Coronavirus: Manitoba truckers facing challenges during COVID-19 pandemic

Manitoba trucker David Henry. Twitter / David Henry

It’s been a bumpy road for truckers since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Manitoba trucker David Henry told 680 CJOB he’s experiencing it first-hand, as he’s stuck in the U.S. waiting for a load to take back across the border.

“Today I’m in central Missouri and we’ve been looking for a load in this area for the last several days, and still waiting,” he said.

“We have that same issue as drivers in other places — waiting for loads to get back home again.”

Henry said this trip down south was initially due to some trailers that had been ordered several months ago and were ready to be picked up.

Now it’s a waiting game.

We don’t want to come down here unless we have a good chance of getting something, and so we wait before leaving home.
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“Right now, we’re looking at about half of the freight that we would normally be doing, and I get paid by the mile as most drivers do — we’re not on any salary — so it makes a difference,” he said.
Terry Shaw with the Manitoba Trucking Association said there have been challenges across the industry.
A lot of manufacturers, he said, are not running at full capacity, and therefore looking to save money which sometimes includes the trucking rates they’re willing to pay.
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“We’ve got manufacturers and other facilities out there that aren’t able to take advantage of their typical economies of scale… maybe instead of production 24 hours, they’re only working one or two shifts, and so their costs are increasing and they’re looking for savings,” he said.

“Unfortunately, some of those savings they’re looking for are coming from trucking companies and the rates they’re looking to pay.”

Shaw said the supply chain is interconnected — so if a trucker is taking potatoes from Portage la Prairie, Man., to a manufacturer in the southern U.S., they need to get back to Manitoba, but there may not be a direct load.

Instead, they might take a roundabout route, going from, say, Georgia to Florida, Florida to Toronto, and Toronto back to Winnipeg.

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“With all of the closures and with all of the changes lately to businesses, the supply chain has eroded, so the distances between those reloads and those connecting loads has increased,” he said.

“The time it takes to wait for those reloads is increasing. Time is money and those delays are very costly.”

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