I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting No. 32 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Thursday, February 3, 2022, the committee is meeting to study anticipated labour shortages in the Canadian transportation sector.
Today’s meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House Order of November 25, 2021. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely using the Zoom application.
Members of the committee, today we have appearing before us as witnesses, from the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, Mr. Bruce Rodgers, executive director, and Ms. Julia Kuzeljevich, director, policy and communication.
From the Canadian Trucking Alliance, we have Mr. Stephen Laskowski, president, as well as Geoffrey Wood, senior vice-president.
From Teamsters Canada, we have Mariam Abou-Dib, executive director, government affairs, as well as, in person here with the committee, Mr. Omar Burgan.
We will begin with opening remarks from the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, for five minutes.
The floor is yours.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting Bruce and me to speak on this critical issue.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, on behalf of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, or CIFFA, thank you for giving us the opportunity to appear before you.
Before we start, we'd like to compliment the committee for its diligence in chasing these issues, which are so serious and so complex. It means a lot to all of us in the industry that you're looking for any solutions that government might provide.
The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association—also known as CIFFA—represents some 300 regular member firms, from the largest of global multinational freight forwarding firms to small and medium-sized Canadian companies. CIFFA member companies employ tens of thousands of highly skilled international trade and transportation specialists. Our members are the front line of Canada’s supply chain, managing the majority of freight shipments.
It’s important to note that we also represent drayage operators—the truckers serving the ports and container terminals where you have seen such congestion in recent years—and the freight brokers, who manage the movement of cross-border trade.
The human resource problems in the supply chain are critical and are not getting better. Many of the problems are tied up with the frustrations of the supply chain itself. People used to make their money on speed and volume. Today, that’s impossible in many areas. The system is, in effect, seized.
We have a short, less than two-minute video that one of our members recorded, which illustrates a small but contributing part of the problem. A copy of the video has been sent to the clerk.
In the video, you see 65 trucks lined up and waiting to get into one of the rail yards in Vaughan, Ontario. This is the equivalent length of approximately 40 football fields. These trucks are trying to return empty containers, which are required to facilitate export trade.
It is important to understand that these drivers make their money by moving containers between the rail yards, importers and exporters. As they sit idle, they are losing money. It is hard to recruit new drivers when everyone can see how hazardous a business it’s become. Rising fuel and insurance costs only add to the problem.
The CIFFA member who recorded this told us he had eight drivers in line, and not one got into the yard that day. Their drivers waited in excess of five hours, only to have the gates closed due to terminal congestion.
By the way, this congestion in Vaughan is actually connected to Canada's west coast. Transport Canada put significant pressure on the rail providers, terminal operators and the Port of Vancouver to clear the backlog and ships at anchorage. The rationale was to facilitate the export of grain. We all understand that priority, but the improved flow in Vancouver doesn't indicate that we solved the problems; we just moved them further inland, to both Toronto and Montreal.
Unfortunately, our first suggestion to address workforce shortages is to fix the terrible problems affecting the supply chain.
As parliamentarians, you'll make your own decisions about how interventionist the government should be. Our laissez-faire, market-driven system has worked well for decades, but the transport sector is having trouble resetting itself. The chronic uncertainties that are frustrating consumers are also squeezing workers, and the problem is not getting better.
Last month, we asked the Canada Border Services Agency to consider returning to a clearance system they used until just a few years ago. This allowed goods to be released much more quickly, at first point of arrival versus when the cargo has arrived at the destination yard. We've copied the letter to this committee's clerk for your information. We want the committee to know that we are constantly engaging with the government on measures to alleviate delays.
We have a couple of specifics on developing the workforce. We would urge the committee to engage with training institutions to discover whether there are resources they need to up their volumes.
Across the Canadian economy, businesses need to temporarily recruit foreign workers to alleviate shortages. We've engaged with Employment and Social Development Canada on the national occupation classification system, which undervalues certain critical transportation management roles, thus discouraging immigrant workers from applying to work here.
Due to frustrations with the supply chain, employees are leaving this profession and moving to less stressful positions. As a result, our freight forwarding employers are moving to offshore certain functions to aid with current and future labour shortages. Due to the cost structure that this solution enables, many of these activities will not return to Canada.
One of our members commented that offshoring activities have increased from 10% of their workforce up to 25% now.
Finally, we're supportive of strategies to recruit women into these industries, where they're still a small percentage, but we need to recognize that women drivers in the trucking industry, for example, may have somewhat different lifestyles and responsibilities from their male counterparts. They may be interested in local but not transcontinental driving. Also, in the video, there were no porta-potties along that long line, which is a problem for all drivers, and especially for women.
Thanks to the committee again for your attention to this issue, and we welcome your questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, everyone, for the invitation.
I'm joined today off screen by Mr. Geoffrey Wood, our senior VP, policy.
Today we'd like to talk about what CTA is, issues in the supply chain, and solutions.
CTA represents about 5,000 trucking companies across Canada and employs about 250,000 Canadians directly.
One of the questions before the committee today is this: What are the implications of the driver shortage in Canada, and what are its solutions? The implications of the driver shortage are being felt by all Canadian businesses and households today.
There is an old saying in our sector: “If you got it, a truck brought it.” That saying is a reflection that over two-thirds of our trade by value and almost everything in our workplace or residence was once in a truck, and in some cases, multiple trucks. However, what that saying is really missing is the major economic contributor to our sector and to the Canadian economy: truck drivers themselves.
In 2022, we are learning as a society that if we didn't get it, it's because we're short close to 30,000 commercial truck drivers in Canada today. That's 30,000 vacancies. What that really means is that there should be 30,000 more trucks in the supply chain that aren't there because we don't have people. What does that mean? It means our export and import market and our domestic market isn't functioning properly.
In late spring 2022, CTA hired Nanos and Associates to survey a sample of our board of directors. This sample represented about 39,000 trucks, 40,000 employees, and about 2.2 million annual loads.
Without question, it was almost unanimous that the number one issue facing our industry and their business is the existing staff shortage and exits and retirements.
As the Government of Canada looks to address the supply chain crisis, we remind this committee that by addressing the truck driver shortage, you are addressing all sectors of the economy to help them emerge from the supply chain crisis and the disastrous impacts of inflation.
The solutions are as follows: Improve the trucking industry's access to immigration; improve our access to training dollars; stamp out the underground economy, which we refer to as Driver Inc.; take a phased-in approach to the 10 paid sick days; and address border concerns.
CTA's recommended approach to these issues are reasonable common-sense solutions that require no new legislation or special treatment for our sector but merely an extension of current practices, access to programs, tools and funds provided to other sectors, or, in the case of the underground economy and Driver Inc., the enforcement of laws and regulations that are currently on the books.
Some of the above issues appear to be going down a very positive road with the Government of Canada. For that, we are very grateful to the various ministries and ministers we're working with. Other critical matters remain a point of significant concern for our sector and for all those who rely on reliable, safe and labour-compliant trucking partners in a time when truck capacity is low.
CTA stands ready to work with the Government of Canada in a collaborative manner as our sector enters a very tenuous and critical time in its history.
Thank you very much.
On behalf of the 125,000 men and women who are members of Teamsters Canada, I would like to thank the chair and members of the committee for inviting me to speak before the transportation committee on the topic of vacancies in the transportation industry.
In addition to working in the hospitality, tourism, trade show and sports entertainment sectors, the vast majority of Teamsters members work in the transportation industry, which includes road, rail and air transport. Teamsters Canada is Canada's largest logistics and transportation labour union.
Let me begin by speaking about the freight trucking industry.
Today, truck drivers are a very important link in the supply chain. The health of the sector has an impact on its clients’ capacity to do business, as well as on consumers themselves.
According to Statistics Canada, over the last 20 years, truck driving has become one of the most important occupations in Canada, representing 278,000 jobs in 2016. We estimate that 90% of goods shipped in Canada are transported by truck at some point.
Despite the economic importance of the sector, we've been seeing for some time that fewer new workers are attracted to truck driving. In conjunction with the median age of drivers rising rapidly, Statistics Canada data also shows very high levels of job vacancies, reaching over 26,000 vacancies in Q2 of 2022.
This level of vacancies was accurately predicted by the Conference Board of Canada almost 10 years ago. In their 2013 report, they recommended that policies be put in place to increase the attractiveness of truck driving, including recognizing truck driving as a skilled trade. In addition to ensuring the proper training of drivers and increasing road safety, this would provide incentives for young people to enter the industry, including by helping to remove prohibitive licensing fees.
Skilled trade recognition would also create easier pathways for entry into the industry, so prospective drivers can avoid unscrupulous fly-by-night employers who are cheating vulnerable workers, including new immigrants or temporary foreign workers, by not paying them what they are owed or engaging in a scam known as Driver Inc., which forces employees to incorporate so the company can skirt labour standards. We're glad the current government has improved the enforcement of labour laws, with penalties on Driver Inc. schemes, and hope more will be done to protect workers from these types of practices.
We must remain vigilant, however. An investigation in Quebec uncovered a criminal network selling fraudulent motor vehicle licenses to newcomers who wanted to become drivers. These fraudsters were able to take advantage of vulnerable workers as well as desperation in the industry, which is not attracting enough drivers.
Another major issue for truck drivers is the growing crisis of inadequate rest areas, especially in more northern areas of Canada. Drivers describe chronic inadequate access to truck stops, which makes rides longer and exhausting, and prevents drivers from getting access to meals. This problem is even worse for women. While there has been an increase in women drivers in recent years, they still remain vastly under-represented. Safe and welcoming rest stops, including access to showers, would make work much less exclusionary for women.
In the rail sector, members report a very high turnover within two years of initial hires. Rail companies are over 150 years old and have often failed to bring working conditions in line with the current century and the expectations of a newer generation of workers. Rail workers are still commonly expected to be at the beck and call of management 24-7, whether it be on weekends or holidays, or even when they've scheduled their annual vacation. Workers can often be called in for a 24-hour shift with only a two-hour notice. Some companies have draconian disciplinary policies, whereby they apply a 20-day suspension without pay, for which members lose 10% of their annual pay. This is in addition to other measures, such as inward-facing cameras that record workers' every conversation, that create an incredibly discouraging work atmosphere that many simply abandon.
Workers in the parcel delivery industry are also often faced with a squeeze on working conditions. In addition to the downward pull of Amazon on working standards across the industry, expected productivity is at levels never seen before. While there was a time when delivery people would expect 80 parcels a day, now the expectation is 140 parcels every day.
The entire transport industry must adapt by offering better working conditions if it wishes to attract a new generation of workers, because, as soon as a different sector offers them a better life, they will go there instead.
Lastly, I will add that when workers are members of unions, they're able to leverage their collective bargaining power to negotiate on a level playing field and improve their terms of employment. It has been shown, repeatedly, that countries with higher union density have lower levels of income inequality and better working conditions. We need good laws that make the process fair for workers to join unions.
Thank you to the committee for listening to my remarks, and thank you to the parliamentary staff and interpreters for making these meetings possible.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses, for being here today.
I am from a rural area, and I come from the agriculture sector, so I understand more than most people how vital the trucking industry is—especially for us to be fed, first and foremost. We can talk about everything else in our house, but if we don't have food, we are not in a good situation. Delivering goods, especially food to grocery store shelves for Canadian consumers, is obviously a priority.
I've heard all the witnesses today talking about shortages and breaks in the supply chain, whether it's at a rail yard or the ports. It has an effect all the way down the chain, and we've seen that throughout COVID—seeing major food spoilage, and shipping containers not arriving on time because trucks were not available to bring the food quickly enough to the distribution centres.
I am just curious, and perhaps this is a question for Mr. Rodgers. Can you comment on how this labour shortage is leading to increased costs for Canadians for their food supply? I think you said the fuel costs have gone up, and that's one of the things we've seen. What effect will increasing the carbon tax have on fuel and the already high cost of shipping goods to our store, going forwards?
You're bringing up some excellent points. I won't say that costs are just going up in fuel and insurance. They are going up in everything.
If you're bringing product in from outside of North America, the ocean line shipping costs have increased tenfold from what they were, and I'm going back to where those costs were six months ago. They have now started to come down due, basically, to a supply and demand situation. The costs now, we're hearing, are back to 2018 levels, so that's normalizing from a certain standpoint.
However, the changing patterns that have occurred through COVID, where the imports have definitely increased coming into North America, have had a significant effect on congestion. Our ports have not expanded. We have no more land to put the product on, so congestion is a part of the supply chain.
What we are experiencing now due to the backlog that was created out of Vancouver and the ships at anchorage.... In order to clear that backlog, they moved the product into central Canada, into Toronto and Montreal. The rail yards you used to have.... One had three yards in Toronto; it now has nine. One had one; it now has two. Equally, they have expanded into the Montreal area as well. Because of that, containers are being split. We don't know where the containers are. They are just added congestion to these additional yards.
Because these yards have opened up as well, the rail yards have additional expenses. The rail yards have changed their demurrage and detention charges. They are now charging, really, after 24 hours, so they have reverted from 72 hours on demurrage and detention to 24 hours. In addition to that, there is the cost of movement from the rail yard to these additional container yards that have since opened up, and we figure that the average cost for an import container now has increased about $1,500 from what it was prior to this congestion's being created.
You're talking about the cost of increases on food. There are increases on everything that is being imported into this country at this point in time, due to the congestion issues that have resulted through the supply chain.
Thank you very much for that.
You alluded to this earlier. This crisis has been made worse by the labour shortage crisis and by high inflation and high fuel costs. Some groups I have met with and groups we have heard from have brought up that temporary foreign workers may be a solution to some of these problems. However, I know from experience in the agriculture sector that TFWs are not a permanent solution. There are also many logistical and regulatory challenges with bringing them to Canada and, obviously, ensuring their safety, as the Teamsters have alluded to.
I'm curious whether you believe TFWs are a viable option for the transportation sector. If we have time, I would like to hear just a brief answer from the Teamsters as well, please.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I want to thank all the witnesses for joining us today.
I just want to give a little context. I represent Calgary Skyview, which is northeast Calgary and home to many truck drivers and trucking and logistics companies, so I have had many opportunities to engage through trucking town halls and meet and greets with members of the industry, who do a tremendous job across the country.
Mr. Laskowski, I want to start with you. You talked about 30,000 trucking vacancies and shortages. What does that look like a few years from now? If you look at five years out, what do you anticipate based on the data? Is your data accurate, and do you think it's reliable that we can project out five years from now? What do the numbers look like then?
That is what I was intending to say. You're saying that currently a lot of drivers are permanent residents or on the citizenship path. That's correct, and that's great. I think if you look at the jobs from a market perspective, there's a high need for them, so from our perspective it's because these jobs are unattractive to most people living in Canada or to a lot of the new generation.
The industry has to find ways to make them more attractive, whether by offering a better work-life balance, better pay or better pensions. We hear constantly that a lot of people will take up the job and after a while say, “You know what, I can't do this. It's not worth it. I'm constantly away from friends and family.” We think the onus should be on the industry to examine why it can't attract people, because there are workers everywhere.
There's an unemployment rate. We don't have 100% employment in Canada, so I think it's just a matter of attracting people who might have gone to other industries where they felt like they could have a better life.
Sure. It's referred to as a personal services business. It's a technical term for what is really a misclassification scam. It allows trucking companies to organize drivers.... It's not allowed now, but they misclassify them so as not to pay them overtime or give them holiday pay and severance. These companies are then void and allow themselves to be carved out of payroll taxation. It also allows companies and drivers to skirt income taxes. It becomes a black hole in our sector, and it's not a small black hole. It's estimated to be between 20% and 30%.
CTA commissioned a study, using Statistics Canada data, which showed that our sector, in cities like Calgary, Winnipeg, southern Ontario, Montreal and Halifax, has the fastest growth in what's called zero-based employee companies of any sector in Canada. Anybody second to us is not even close. This is Driver Inc., and it has to stop.
What it's doing to other companies is that over 50% of drivers are going to companies across Canada and saying, “I want to be paid the incorporated model. I don't want to be on your payroll.”
If CRA doesn't step up soon, we have a big problem. We are going to have a major, major problem. Our industry wants this stopped. The compliant drivers want it stopped, and the drivers who are being abused want it stopped. We need the assistance of the Government of Canada, particularly CRA, very quickly on this issue.
has already said that he will step up. He has disavowed this in the House, but we need action, and we need it quickly.
As an alliance, we really haven't looked at that aspect from the Government of Canada. Other provincial associations may advocate down that avenue. Our board hasn't examined that particular issue.
I can assure you that driver pay has gone up over 20% to 30% over the last two years. Incentives have gone up. Companies work with their drivers to pick routes they want to go to. There are market solutions to this. They're being worked on. From the Government of Canada, we really need training dollars to help onboard people onto the trucks very quickly. It's our number one priority with regard to what we'll call incentives.
Just because you have a driver's license that qualifies you to operate a tractor trailer, that doesn't mean you're ready to work in the trucking industry. That comes with significant cost. Many sectors have apprenticeship-type onboarding programs. We have zero access to those types of programs and those dollars. That needs to change.
Those are the programs that we would like to see move forward with the Government of Canada and the trucking industry. Again, let's not reward the underground economy and give dollars to those companies. Let's give the dollars to vetted trucking companies that follow safety practices and maintain high labour standards.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to our witnesses. This is an interesting and important topic.
I wonder if I could pick up where Mr. Barsalou-Duval left off on this Driver Inc. scheme. It's something I'm not very familiar with, but it seems like a serious issue.
I wonder if either Mr. Laskowski or Mr. Burgan have thoughts about the specific remedy that's needed. Is it a legislative remedy? Do we need to make changes to the Income Tax Act? How does the government prevent this kind of scheme from happening? Is it simply a matter of increasing enforcement and CRA resources to go out there and ensure compliance?
I know in other sectors there are pretty clear definitions of what constitutes an employee versus a contractor in terms of providing the facilities of work. If you're a contractor, you have to provide your own office and your own equipment, and that kind of thing.
Is this a matter of those rules not being consistently applied across sectors? Is it a matter of not having enough proactive enforcement? Are there changes that we can advocate for through our report that would help address this situation in a legislative way?
Maybe we could start with Mr. Laskowski, and then Mr. Burgan could add his thoughts.
Really, sometimes life is more complicated, and sometimes it is really easy. In this one, CRA needs to enforce the laws that are currently on the books. There is no legislation required. From a CRA perspective, enforce the laws on the books.
From an ESDC perspective, ESDC is out in the field. I believe the Teamsters mentioned that earlier. Companies are being addressed. We'd like to see—and I'm sure the Teamsters would too, but I don't want to put words in their mouths—that for these companies that are found guilty and in violation from an ESDC standpoint, every single driver who is entitled to it receives his or her back pay.
With regard to the CRA, ESDC is discovering dozens of companies in gross violation. Our request is really simple to the CRA: Why aren't you seeing the same companies and auditing the same companies that ESDC is finding in gross violation of Driver Inc.? To us, it's a matter of enforcing the law.
There definitely are. I don't have any of those statistics on hand.
It goes without saying that when you get the opportunity to negotiate, you get good working conditions and you get better working conditions, and you have the leverage of the labour union in order to obtain those, especially with things like enforcement. The two things unions can do for workers are to negotiate contracts and to enforce those contracts. Throughout my work experience, and even in my personal life, for workers who face bad employers without the protection of a union, it's a lot more work to get those employers to follow the rules and treat workers with respect.
As I mentioned, it was actually much easier earlier in the century to form unions. A lot of provinces have put in place two-step laws for unionization, to allow employers to break down unionization drives. We're seeing now that some provinces—notably B.C.—have the card check law, which makes it a lot easier and fairer for workers to organize their workplaces.
Permit me, if you will, to editorialize for a moment. I know that all members of the committee will probably agree, because we're going to get to the report-writing stage of this, obviously, after a few meetings.
The title on the notice of meeting is “Anticipated Labour Shortages in the Canadian Transportation Sector”. I would suggest that if we're talking about a 30,000 to 50,000 shortage of truck drivers, it's not “anticipated”. It's now. I think we've heard that from the witnesses. It's just that “anticipated” implies perhaps the lack of a sense of urgency. I'm sure we agree, but I'm just going to make that point right up front.
We've heard about temporary foreign workers, the pathway to citizenship and encouragement of the immigration of skilled trades as potential solutions to the shortage of truck drivers we have currently. I spoke to businesses as recently as last Friday who've had issues getting skilled trade workers through the IRCC processes—as I know and we've all witnessed—and through the various federal government processes. What used to take three months or less is now taking 10 months, and it's often worse.
Maybe you can elaborate on how as a federal government we can reduce some of the hurdles and get workers in faster, whether it be through the temporary foreign worker process or the various other immigration streams.
That's for either the freight forwarders or the CTA, who referenced that, or certainly the Teamsters. That's for anyone who wants to comment.
I want to applaud , who's already made a significant announcement. The change isn't in place, but the trucking industry, specifically the truck driver, will become part of the express entry program. That was a significant change and a significant announcement. Some details still have to be worked out on this, but we'd like to see drivers made a priority within the express entry program for 2023. Again, working with the folks at the express entry program, we'd like to ensure that the drivers brought in through the program will end up with trucking companies with the highest labour and safety standards.
We applaud and his team for announcing this direction. We very much look forward to working with them in a collaborative manner to make sure that drivers are a priority in 2023 and to make sure, to the best of our ability, that these people coming to Canada end up with labour-compliant trucking companies and not being abused as you read in that Toronto Star article.
Currently, the trucking industry has zero access to training dollars other than through what I'll refer to as, and I'm not trying to belittle them, more one-off programs. We would like to see almost an apprenticeship-like program, whereby once an individual goes through the mandatory entry-level training in our industry, they have the ability to drive either a straight truck, as we call it in our industry, or a tractor-trailer.
Really, what is needed now, especially with 30,000 individuals short, is the training dollars to onboard people. Just because you have the licence, it doesn't mean you're ready to drive a truck. Again, what we want to see is good companies rewarded with training dollars to help them onboard. Typically, you'll need two people in the truck. You're not going to put that person on the long haul. You start them off on shorter hauls. This is all to make sure that things are done safely, that people are integrated into our industry in a safe manner, and that they will stay in our industry.
Really, this is what it's about. Number one, let's make the dollars available to our industry to help onboard these people; and number two, let's make sure these dollars go to companies with the highest labour and safety standards.
The number of vacancies in the trucking industry is the problem we’ve been talking about the longest. As I said, a labour shortage was predicted as far back as 2013, when the report by the Conference Board of Canada came out. That was before the pandemic and the supply chain crisis. There was a lot of talk in that report about making the trade more attractive.
However, as I noted earlier, there are a lot of pressures in the rail sector as well. The data is approximate, since we don’t have statistics on it, but what I’ve learned is that a company will hire 100 people, but often only 20 will be left two years later.
When it comes to working conditions, I mentioned rail workers being monitored on camera, but companies want to enforce other very arbitrary regulations. For example, employees are not allowed to use mobile phones, even when it is safe. So, the employee is going to find themselves…
Good evening, everyone.
There is no universal solution to the trucking sector labour shortage. We really need to look at the trucking sector more broadly.
The issue is determining how to make the industry more attractive for youth and women.
Currently, there are young people and women who don’t have a job, but are looking for one. And yet the sector is experiencing a labour shortage.
We need to invest in training, but also make the sector more attractive.
We need to value the trucking sector. To do so, we must recognize that it’s a professional sector. Currently, employer associations and unions need to get on the same wavelength, which is significant. The trucking sector needs to be recognized as a professional sector. Not everyone can become a trucker. They have to pass a test to get their license, and there are training and apprenticeship programs, just like in the construction sector.
We therefore need to value the trucking sector, just as we value the construction sector.
I will address Mr. Laskowski first.
Mr. Laskowski, so far we have heard a great deal about the trucker shortage. However, among the means considered to solve problems, there is that of accomplishing the same amount of work with fewer workers.
Is it possible to implement certain technologies or take certain measures to reduce the amount of personnel in transportation?
I’m asking the question very openly. I am aware that, if there is no driver in the truck, nothing moves.
We are not yet at the stage of self-driving cars, but perhaps there are other solutions I don’t have in mind.
What do you think?
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I, too, want to thank all the witnesses today for their testimony.
It's certainly an issue that I've heard lots about, even prior to the pandemic itself. I think the issue in this industry, especially the trucking industry, has been one of keeping, finding and retaining drivers.
I have Honda in my riding, so I have a lot of large trucking companies there, and this has been an issue. One trucking company, for instance, I believe, has 150 trucks, and the average age of the drivers is 61, so it's a huge issue.
I grew up wanting to be a professional hockey player or a truck driver, because there were good truck movies back then. I don't know if you remember Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood. I don't know if we need some movies out so that youth will get into this again.
Part of the problem might be—and we have this in Ontario as well when it comes to anybody in the trades—that a lot of parents don't really push their kids to get into this field, and now they realize through the trades that a lot of those individuals are making more money than the academics who have gone through certain university programs.
It is changing a bit when it comes to trades here in Ontario, but I think the reality is that no matter how you sum up the problem, working there with the hours, the shifts and doing long haul now, the next generation is not into that. They want to be home every single day.
I think the answer—and I just want to know what you think—is that, in order to get those people, they have to be paid a lot of money, more than the average person would think a truck driver would get, because it's such an important part of everything we do. Every company, like food, as Lianne was saying for the farming industry....
Until that happens, I don't know, so I'm asking you. Other than that, quite frankly, how can you get people to say they want to be a truck driver?
I think you hit the nail on the head. Good working standards will attract more people. If the salaries are higher, and if people feel like it's a good way to support their families and it's worth the sacrifice of perhaps being away from home, they will come more readily if those jobs pay better.
We have heard stories, for example, of some employers recognizing that people wanted more time off. They worked with the employees and their union and created more creative scheduling, for example, having three 12-hour days in a row and then four days off. A lot of workers really like that.
It's both things. I think, if people can earn good money because they are the ones stepping up and making the sacrifice by doing a hard job, they'll come. Also, if they feel their employers are responding to their desire to have more work-life balance, they will likely stay longer.
I've heard a lot of talk today about unions and union truck drivers.
I just want to recognize that even the smaller owner-operators are pretty important. I had a lot in my riding prior to.... A lot have gotten out of it because of either the insurance, the fuel costs, or the wait times. Like we said already, there's a lot of time they waste if they're an owner-operator.
I have a question abut fuel, because, as we know, it's getting a lot more expensive. Is that going up? Is that money going to take away from money that perhaps we could pay that company or that individual to stay in the industry?
We heard earlier that when there's no training.... Could there be an incentive somehow that would help in the long run, as opposed to just paying more? You're not changing your vehicle; you're going to be driving the exact same vehicles, the same trucks.
Again, I want to welcome all the guests today. It's been great testimony and very interesting information you've provided to all the members of this committee.
Mr. Rodgers, I'll ask you a question first off, and then I'll give the others a chance to respond.
We have a lot of labour shortages occurring in many sectors. In the transportation sector, in the marine industry on the east coast there's a shortage of ship's officers, for example, that is creating some real challenges for shipping companies. Then also in the trucking industry there are similar kinds of problems.
Let me ask you this, Mr. Rodgers. Are there particular aspects of the transportation sector that are unique when it comes to labour shortages? If there are, can you possibly elaborate?
We're experiencing difficulty with the classification of a freight forwarder. I don't believe the general population—and maybe a lot of people around this table as well—truly understand what a freight forwarder is.
What we're trying to do is get that group classified under the national occupation classification code, because currently they are classified as “shippers and receivers”. When you're looking to bring people into the country to train them on this, they can come in only on a temporary work permit, and they're allowed to be here only for up to two years.
We're working with the NOC and trying to get them to change that classification so that it's more of a skilled position whereby those individuals could come in and, under the express entry system, obtain permanent residency and then move on into the workforce and into their careers in Canada.
The challenge we are faced with is that the review of the NOC occurs only every 10 years. They do a little cursory review initially, but it's 10 years before they do the major review. From our perspective, that's taking too long, and we're trying to position that.
We're talking about labour, and I won't belabour the point here, but the other challenge is that we have significant equipment-related issues that are going to be challenged. If we bring in 30,000 drivers, I'm not convinced we have the equipment to facilitate those drivers and keep them employed as time goes on.
I would say we are challenged in a number of different areas, and I don't think there's a really simple solution to any of them.
Again, a trend we're seeing a lot is that newer workers want something different out of their work. They want more work-life balance. That's something we hear a lot.
My colleague, John McCann, was telling a story about someone he knew who had started truck-driving, then realized he was going be away all the time and said, you know what? It's not for me. I'm going to get an office job.
I think finding ways to, again, make it more attractive...because it's a tough job. It can be very hard, especially long hauls. Finding ways to make the work more attractive and for it to evolve with the expectations of workers would be good for the industry.
I think it's probably a bit of everything.
When you work in the labour movement, you know that you get the answers by asking workers what they think. That's what we did, and they're telling us that these are the things that are keeping new workers from coming in. These are the worst parts of the job that are getting to where it's at a breaking point.
I'm guessing some of these were way better. For example, we talk about rest stops. It's an infrastructure issue. If the economy moved a certain way so that there are way more trucks on the road—which, from what I understand, is the case—and no one ever took to improving the rest stops for trucks, then you just reach a breaking point. You reach a crisis. I think it's probably a combination of a lot of things.
I'll ask one question and then share my time with my colleague, Ms. Rood.
We talked about working conditions. Both the freight forwarders and the Teamsters referenced rest areas and the need to use the bathroom. That's obviously a small point, although I would imagine it's a significant frustration on top of other issues. It exacerbates the working conditions.
I know that in Ontario during the pandemic there was a mandate from the provincial government that required businesses receiving deliveries by truck to make their bathroom facilities available to drivers for their use. It seemed like a very practical solution to a problem.
You referenced infrastructure in rest areas. It's not just about washroom facilities, but also, I would imagine, about areas to rest if there's fatigue.
Are there other things—without treading on provincial jurisdiction—that the federal arm can do to alleviate that problem? This is for both the teamsters and the freight forwarders, who mentioned that issue as well.
I'll speak for the freight forwarders.
The groups we're representing are the drayage companies. These are the people who pick up the containers from the rail yards and ports to deliver them ultimately to the importers or exporters, whoever needs those containers.
The reference we were making was to the long lineups due to the congestion issues today. These drivers are sitting there for four, five, six or seven hours. They're basically sitting on the side of the highway, trying to get into a yard in order to pick up a container or drop one off. That's problematic for the industry. It's not necessarily to go into a rest area, because these drivers are just sitting there waiting. It's a problem with the system and the congestion that's going on. I would say from that aspect there's really nothing from a federal perspective that we're looking for.
I'll turn it over to the CTA to offer further comments.
I'll close by saying thank you, Mr. Laskowski, for that information.
What I heard from the industry was that the competitiveness over not having drivers actually drove the price up for freight. People were looking to get trucks when they couldn't get somebody to come across the border, or they secured a trucking company to bring their load across. If somebody else bid higher, they were dropping the other loads and taking the higher bid, because they could. They could get the money, because they're in the business of making money, as well.
I'll close with that.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I know my time is up.
I'm going to concentrate on a dialogue we can have outside the box—not looking at what was, but at what can be. What I mean by that is, we completed two interim reports on the establishment of a Canadian transportation and logistics strategy. I'm sure you folks have been part of that process. Some of you have, at least, or you know the reports I'm referring to.
The second comment is this: If we're going to strengthen our trade corridors and, in fact, integrate our distribution logistics, the human resource element is a big part of that. The infrastructure, policy legislation and partnerships are big parts of that. It's not just here, domestically, but binationally, if not trinationally.
The fact of the matter is that, at the end of the day, to strengthen our overall global trade performance, we have to have all the boxes checked off. With that said, the dialogue we're having today is important. Let's discuss this outside the box.
When we look at the need for operators in trade corridors, it's not just operators on the road. It's also operators on rail, in the air and on the water. As much as the industry on the road is talking about the need for operators, the marine industry is saying the same thing. Whether it's a cook, engineer, captain or mate, it's the same situation—a dire situation. Rail is the same, and air is somewhat the same, especially within the supply chain and among those working with luggage or on the gates in airports and things of that nature.
My question, Mr. Rodgers, is going to be to you, as a freight forwarder.
Do you feel there may be an opportunity to bundle a branding exercise that looks at operators as this relates to trade corridors, including road, marine and airport operators—rail, water, road and air? It's to bundle the resources, which means working with the provinces to bundle training and harmonize provincial program training across the country. As we know, those training exercises, for lack of a better word, can differ from province to province, so it's to harmonize the training program nationally.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
I'll take it a step further and look at the integration of distribution logistics internationally.
When an investor or company comes in from out of the country, most of which are going to be aligned with the trade agreements we've established and ratified within the last four years, whether it be CUSMA, CETA, the CPTPP or others, it's a new way of doing business in the new global market we find ourselves in within the last few decades. Do you find that, to do this, it's going to be a new age as we integrate our distribution logistics systems of transportation, and therefore a new age of operators?
Going back to my earlier question, it's about the bundling not only of training, but also of branding and the overall need to get the word out about trade corridor operators, regardless of what sector they might find themselves in—rail, road, water or air.
If I can refer to the analysts, we want to underline and bold that comment with respect to a trade corridor and transportation strategy.
Thank you, Mr. Rodgers, for that comment. This is my last question.
I'm sure you read the Emerson CTA report and the recommendations that came out of that.
Do you feel strongly that as part of establishing a Canadian transportation and logistics strategy...? What Mr. Emerson talks about in his report is that it's not just the obvious investments and/or attention that we have to give to infrastructure, whether it be the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Welland Canal or roads in terms of the hard end of infrastructure, but that the human resources we're speaking about today are a great part of that as well?
Thank you very much, Mr. Badawey.
If it's agreeable to members, I would like to ask one brief question to the witnesses.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you.
There was a study that came out recently where they asked the next generation—younger workers entering the work force—what they were looking for in employment. The number one thing they were looking for was a sense of fulfillment, something whereby they felt they were contributing to something positive. The second was work-life balance, so quality of life. The third was a positive impact on the environment. They wanted to make sure that what they were doing didn't have a negative impact.
The trucking industry, for many younger workers, is seen as an industry that is not environmentally friendly. I'm wondering about greater efforts being put in—perhaps support from the federal or different levels of government—to help the industry transition to technologies such as electric vehicles: trucks, for example. Not only would that help with the bottom line for the trucking industry, obviously, with regard to savings in fuel, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that transition helping attract younger workers to the sector and putting it in a more positive light.
I'm looking for reflections from any of you.
Very similar to some of the questions around the technology and driver-assist or driverless vehicles, it's the same thing with electric vehicles.
The number one cost next to labour is fuel. If our members could move to electric vehicles, they would. The reality is that the technology is not there for our long-haul economy, nor is it there for the standards in the weights and volumes that are moved in these vehicles.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance is extremely supportive and is working with the Government of Canada towards this. However, in short, the technology is just not there to move the economy that is in our customer base, both in Canada and the United States, on electric vehicles at this point.