Atlantic Canadian trucking companies call on Ottawa for more driver supports

Click to play video: 'Truckers call for government response amid driver shortage in New Brunswick'
Truckers call for government response amid driver shortage in New Brunswick
WATCH: The crunch to find truck drivers in Atlantic Canada has reached a crisis point for many companies. Across Canada, it's estimated the industry needs about 28,000 new drivers, and they want government help to get more drivers behind the wheel. Zack Power has that story – Oct 28, 2022

Trucking companies in Atlantic Canada say they’ve been feeling the crunch in hiring more drivers due to insurance regulations.

Current restrictions prohibit any new truck drivers out of school to join smaller companies. Many small businesses say their insurers require them to have two to three years of “relevant” experience, where often rules aren’t entirely clear.

Just outside Saint John, Far East Transportation owner Donald Westhaven says it’s been difficult. He recently had to sell off some of his equipment because he couldn’t find any qualified drivers.

“I’d like to see someone sit down and try to figure this industry out and where they’re shoving it too,” said Westhaven.

“I don’t know if the product is going to get up and down the road, but they’re not making it easy for drivers.”

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It’s estimated that there are roughly 28,000 empty seats across the country, with companies operating at 90 per cent of driver capacity, according to the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.

“I don’t think there are any young new drivers that are interested unless they’re family. If your son grew up with you and liked the trade, he might follow your footsteps. Otherwise, I don’t think anyone is interested. The government doesn’t paint a pretty picture,” said Westhaven.

“Still, (a new driver) needs two years of experience for an insurance company to put him in a rig for you.”

The Canadian Trucking Association estimated that there will be nearly 50,000 vacant positions by 2027, a number that is alarming for the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.

“Not everybody is in the position to come out and embark on a (training) program that costs 10-12 thousand dollars,” said the association chair Trevor Bent.

“Then there’s also the time to do it, which is about 12 weeks.”

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Bent said he would like to see more incentives from the federal government to help bring more drivers into the system.

The Fredericton chamber of commerce is calling on Ottawa to do more to help, something echoed by the Canadian chamber of commerce.

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