Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, and thanks to all of you for the invitation to speak with you here today.
Trucking HR Canada is a national not-for-profit organization that works collaboratively with stakeholders in commercial transportation, public policy, training and economic analysis, ensuring Canada's freight transportation network has the skilled workforce it needs to meet growing demand. We offer a range of HR-related programs and supports, including driver training and other wage incentives and subsidy programs, which are all informed by our sought-after labour market information.
I had the opportunity to review some of the testimony that has already been heard by this committee, and my comments today will build on it, with labour market data on shortages and some considerations to address them.
The trucking and logistics sector is the most significant enabler of postpandemic economic recovery in Canada. Our labour market information shows that in the third quarter of 2022, Canada's truck driver labour force amounted to close to 320,000 drivers, including those who are fully employed or who are actively seeking work, with 60% of these drivers working directly in the truck transportation sector, and the remaining 40% working in industries such as construction, agriculture—as we've heard today—mining, oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and more.
In that same quarter, employment among truck drivers increased by 11.8%, with some 33,000 additional drivers actively employed compared to the previous quarter. At the same time, the number of unemployed drivers fell by half. The low level of unemployment among drivers means that employers have a much smaller pool of experienced workers to draw upon and must therefore look to hire, train and onboard new drivers, which is a lengthy and costly process.
The unemployment rate among drivers stands at 2.1% compared to 5.3% in the overall Canadian labour force. The most recently available vacancy data shows, as Mike said, that there are some 20,110 vacancies in truck transportation overall—NAICS 484—with a vacancy rate of 9.4%. These vacancies include jobs for over 30 different occupations, including truck drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, shippers and receivers, managers and administrators, IT workers and more.
For the occupation of transport truck drivers specifically—NOC 7511—the vacancy rate is similar, at 9.1%, which is what Mike quoted, with 28,210 vacancies across Canada. This is 8,100 more vacancies than in the truck transportation sector overall. How is this possible? As we've heard, it's because most other sectors in the Canadian economy depend upon the services provided by truck drivers both to receive goods required to conduct their business and to move their products onwards in the supply chain. As a result, the shortage of truck drivers impacts the abilities of these other sectors to recover from the pandemic and grow.
Even before the pandemic, the driver shortage was threatening growth. In 2020, Trucking HR Canada estimated that the driver shortage was costing the truck transportation industry as much as $3.1 billion in lost revenues every year. Other sectors are experiencing the impact of the driver shortage too. For example, the Forest Products Association of Canada estimates that the truck driver shortage is costing their industry about $450 million in lost business. Also, the shortage of drivers might actually be fuelling inflation. If it costs more to move food, fuel, medical supplies and other goods by truck, it is likely that these costs are being passed on.
In terms of underlying causes, our research suggests that safety concerns, high upfront training costs, work-life balance and environmental concerns are some of the reasons. Retirements are a factor, as we've heard, with 35% of our truck drivers being 55 or older, compared to 22% in all sectors. Our industry also has some of the lowest representation of women and youth, each group accounting for under 4% of our truck drivers.
What are some considerations to help address this?
First, our driver training subsidies and wage incentives are helping get more young people in the sector and are helping employers with onboarding and employment readiness. Here we need access to more of these programs.
Second, we need to better bridge the gap between entry-level training and employment readiness. Trucking HR Canada has given a proposal to the federal government to support this.
Third, we see a need to develop tools to equip employers in the recruitment and retention of a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Fourth, we see a need to better support and educate our federally regulated employers with increasingly prescriptive Canada Labour Code compliance requirements.
Fifth, we need to continue with our labour market information to support evidence-based decisions by employers and career seekers, as well as to inform government policy and skills-training investments.
Our truck driver shortage is real and worsening. The shortages in other key occupations are also worsening, posing a threat to economic recovery. We need significant and immediate interventions to ensure that we have the skilled workforce needed to support a growing, competitive and sustainable supply chain.