The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), along with other key stakeholders from many different sectors, participated in the National Supply Chain Summit on Monday January 31st. The Summit was hosted by Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, and also included many other key Ministers from the Federal Government. The meeting was held to hear stakeholder input on the key supply chain issues, recommendations and possible solutions going forward to solve supply chain issues in the short, medium and long term. The Federal government also committed to ensure this is just a starting point and announced they will be holding a series of regional and industry sessions soon to continue the discussions.
It was clear from today’s meeting, from almost all stakeholders involved, that one of the biggest issues the supply chain is facing is labour shortages. The PMTC provided several comments related to issues in the trucking industry.
Points raised by the PMTC
- The professional driving occupation needs to be declared a skilled trade. This would open up more access to funding opportunities and grants for those trying to enter the industry who have a barrier to entry as a result of the cost of training. Would also more accurately reflect the skill required to be a professional driver.
- Have all provinces implement a minimum driver training standard.
- More co-ordination of jurisdictional regulations with a national standard. Inconsistencies in regulations and enforcement from one jurisdiction to another cause significant operational challenges and add major expense in equipment and operations. Also leads to carrier’s jurisdiction shopping to find the place with the least stringent regulations to license their fleets in.
- The closure of fast clearance centers as a result of covid border restrictions has led to a shortage of fast approved drivers, slowing shipments at the border as a result of longer clearance times.
- Redundancy in highway infrastructure is needed. Twinning of the Trans Canada from Coast to Coast needs to be accelerated. This improves safety and travel times, and also adds a layer of redundancy when a major highway is closed and cuts off access from one side of the country to another. Also, a national standard is needed for the design and standards of quality of the highway is needed that all jurisdictions must adhere to.
- Access to safe parking and clean restrooms has been an issue for many years. We need a national strategy to address this so drivers have safe locations to get the rest they need and are required to get by Hours-of-service regulations.
- While we understand vaccines are our best way out of the health crisis, we also understand that the entire supply chain is in a labour crisis. The trucking industry is already short 22,900 drivers. A Federal vaccine mandate will remove an additional 15 to 20% of the driver workforce, further exasperating the supply chain shortage and causing delays in deliveries and increased prices for shipping. Testing or other safe alternatives are needed that do not reduce the labour pool further is needed at this time.
The PMTC looks forward to working together with Minister Alghabra and other Ministers through the National Supply Chain Summit going forward and will continue to ensure our members concerns or suggestions for solutions are raised.