Describe the current health of the trucking industry in your province.
Dave Earle – It’s challenged on every front. The destruction of infrastructure in November continues to disrupt the movement of goods. Routes are taking 20-30% longer to run through the Highway 5 corridor, and while Highway 1 has re-opened there are significant delays of up to two hours. Our vacancy rate for drivers is over 12%, and we expect that later this year it will hit levels that historically have led to trucks and loads being parked for lack of drivers. This continues to be a critical issue that remains at the top of our list of initiatives for 2022.
Chris Nash – 51.7% of Alberta’s GDP moves on the back of a truck and, in 2018 alone, Export Alberta reported Alberta’s exports totaled more than $100 billion in goods by road to the United States. Goods remain on the move in the province, but we are keeping a close eye on the national driver shortage. While Trucking HR Canada reported commercial driver vacancies in Canada is at 22,990 jobs – an historic high since Statistics Canada started tracking vacancies in 2015 – Alberta-specific vacancies are approximately 3,600.
Susan Ewart – In Saskatchewan, exports are strong and led by our agriculture industry. This means trucking is a key driver in moving Saskatchewan exports. Nevertheless, we are not immune to challenges and labour continues to be a concern for trucking companies in Saskatchewan.
Aaron Dolyniuk – It has been a very challenging couple of years, but we are eager to move forward as an industry. Whether that’s addressing our human resource challenge or finding new ways to increase efficiency while reducing our carbon footprint, Manitoba’s trucking industry is all in.
Looking back at the past year, what were some of the lessons learned – as an Association and industry?
Dave Earle – As an association, BCTA has learned the value of tangible, practical engagement with members across a variety of platforms – virtual and in-person. Never has this been more important. We’ve discovered that virtual platforms are useful for dissemination of information, but in-person interaction is vital for addressing larger concepts and issues.
As an industry, we’ve demonstrated the critical value of our work and the need to be adaptable and nimble. We’ve done this where we’re most comfortable: logistics planning and finding solutions to goods movement issues. With the evolving and hyper-competitive labour market in not only BC, but also Canada and around the world, we now must take those hard-learned lessons and engage customers to explore new ways of doing business. The way we operate has not and will not attract new entrants to our industry in the numbers we need. We’re going to need to be much more flexible and adaptable to meet our labour demands.
Chris Nash – The speed of decision in times of crisis encouraged more collaborative decision-making between the association and government, the association and other associations, and the association and membership. For example, we worked closely with the BCTA – during the BC road closures in the summer of 2021 – to make sure membership was kept in the loop as much as possible. Working collaboratively makes for a more harmonized group
The importance of timely communication. From details on ELD mandates to vaccine mandates to highway updates concerning the BC floods, now, more than ever, we understand the value of timely, two-way communication with our membership and the motoring public.
The need for and importance of advancing technology to meet Canada’s 2030 climate targets, changes will be needed; we have several initiatives underway to help support industry with these transitions.
The COVID-19 pandemic remained an important factor for Alberta, and carriers stayed steadfast in their resiliency, ensuring goods got to where they needed to go, and Albertans had what they needed for their day-to-day lives.
Susan Ewart – Most importantly, the trucking industry flexed/showcased its ability to adapt. COVID-19 has continued into the early parts of 2022; industry experienced significant flooding in BC causing significant delays; and border blockades and protests have impeded trade and several primary ports of entry. These have all been barriers that the trucking industry has quickly and safely adapted around. As an Association, we’ve learned how resilient and effective we can be. Being able to pivot quickly in real-time has become a valuable skill to have.
Aaron Dolyniuk – I think the lessons we learned as an industry and association are the same lessons we learned in general – be patient, kind, well-informed, and flexible. I am proud of our team for their hard work, and I think our members can hold their heads high for their dedication to industry.
Let’s discuss the vaccine mandate and its connection to supply chain constraints and labour shortages.
Dave Earle – The issue has moved far outside anything to do with our sector. The demand and disruptions we’re seeing in the trans-border sector has masked any disruptions caused by any mandate. BCTA members are telling us that load factors have dramatically increased, and that contracts with U.S.-based carriers are being cancelled or not offered as these carriers cannot meet demand. This coupled with increasing economic activity as we emerge from COVID and re-design supply chains to embed more “just in case” than “just in time,” are what’s challenging us now and what will continue to evolve in the future.
Chris Nash – AMTA will always advocate for the importance of the safe and efficient movement of goods. The safety of the commercial transportation industry is a top priority.
Susan Ewart – Trucking is diverse in its companies, and most fleets manage challenges and approach doing business differently. At this point, supply chain constraints have been partly self-inflicted. With respect to labour shortages, vaccine mandates have made recruitment more complicated, and created stress on many business owners, however, companies find ways to adapt – through route scheduling, load prioritization, and heightened health and safety measures for drivers.
Aaron Dolyniuk – As we’ve seen in cross-border numbers and in reports from various carriers, the cross-border mandate hasn’t really had an impact on volume of freight movements. We have seen our members pivot drivers as they are able in order to accommodate.
What can your members do to keep the industry moving, drivers safe, and supply chain replenished in your province?
Dave Earle – Our members have been incredibly creative, courageous, and adaptable in the logistics sphere, and applying this approach in every area of their operations will help keep them competitive and bolster the industry. Embracing technology in everything we do to improve efficiency, performance, reliability, and safety will not only be advantageous to businesses but will ultimately benefit drivers and the supply chain. At the same time, our industry must be environmentally responsible, and ensure sustainable transportation by adopting emissions-reducing technology. The new generation of employees and customers will mean changing business practices to meet their desires, and not just our business needs.
Chris Nash – Our Business Development and Workplace Support Services teams interact with membership daily to discuss safety and advocacy initiatives that are important to them.
Susan Ewart – Ensuring best practices are continuing to be followed around health and safety. Trucking needs people now more than ever to be working.
Aaron Dolyniuk – Our members make the operational decisions within their organizations that work best for their own organizations when it comes to driver safety and supply chain issues; however, we do provide an opportunity for members to share their concerns on these issues. We also develop programs, such as the RPM Trucking Industry Safety program, to act as supports for our members in these areas. The more we hear from our members, the stronger and more representative our association will be.
Describe how your Association has collaborated with other associations, stakeholders, and governments to work through challenges in light of the pandemic, vaccine mandate, BC flooding, and other recent events.
Dave Earle – Our association was involved in everything from high-level strategic discussions to on-the-ground contributions delivering raw materials and essentials to where they need to be.
If there has been a table, we’ve been there. BCTA has been engaging all levels of government on everything from COVID recovery and emergency disaster assistance to consultations regarding rebuilding infrastructure and crisis communications with industry. We have worked alongside broader business associations in developing new initiatives and ways of doing business to adapt to may of the challenges the industry continues to face, whether it be infrastructure or pandemic related. We also coordinated with members and charitable organizations
to help get supplies to areas that need it most.
Chris Nash – We are fortunate to have positive relationships with transportation associations across Canada. These partnerships were key during the BC floods, as BCTA worked around the clock to keep their membership and other associations, including the AMTA, aware of changing conditions so we could in turn relay that to our membership.
Through our collaboration with the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA), we can offer its members the Certified Training Safety Professional (designation) to commercial drivers in that province.
The marketing and communications departments from the western associations participate in weekly meetings to exchange ideas, network and stay up to date on what each province is focused on when it comes to commercial transportation..
Susan Ewart – At the STA, we actively seek to develop and enhance partnerships with government, industry institutions, commercial groups and the public. When BC experienced severe flooding, STA members quickly mobilized and provided a significant donation to Trucks for Change’s Red Cross relief fund. The STA contributed $10,000. We are also very active with our provincial government. In the wake of several challenges as mentioned over the last year, we met 29 times with government stakeholders.
Aaron Dolyniuk – I would suggest that a silver lining from all of these challenges is that the MTA has developed much closer relationships – with the other trucking associations, provincial industry associations, provincial and municipal government, and other stakeholders – than we had pre-pandemic. I know there is a lot of division across the country, and even throughout the industry, but as far as the MTA goes, our collaborative efforts with those other groups has noticeably increased.
What initiative(s) will your Association be working on this year?
Dave Earle – BCTA’s main initiatives for 2022 address the labour shortage and the decarbonization of the industry. We are working to develop effective and sustainable strategies to increase our industry’s labour supply, while continuing to advocate for accessible funding for mandatory entry level training to remove as many barriers to enter the industry as possible. Reducing our industry’s greenhouse gas emissions remains a priority, and BCTA will continue to focus on promoting low- and zero-emission technology and vehicles by engaging government for initiatives and support to accelerate the adoption.
Chris Nash – We are identifying and adopting ways to bring technology to industry; test technology and alternative fuels, bring in data to drive decisions, and more. We are working on helping build solid career paths for commercial transportation to attract people, including underrepresented groups.
AMTA will be attending and participating in several conferences to share details about our net-zero mobility projects. A collaborative approach to more involvement. The more partners involved in a project or initiative, the more it will be adopted. If you’re a part of the development, you’re a part of the project. How do we bring everyone together to create high sustainability for world-class options/technology?
Susan Ewart – 2022 is a year for growth at the STA. We are into our second full year as a stand-alone association with a passionate staff and a lot to offer. This year, we will be hitting the road and introducing Saskatchewan high schools to the different career opportunities within the trucking industry. The environment will be another big piece in 2022. We’ve been actively engaged with multiple stakeholders, conversing about the challenges and opportunities that trucking has to be leaders in emissions reduction. Finally, ensuring the highest level of safety is being promoted through all our activities.
Aaron Dolyniuk – We will continue to focus on the two main priorities of the MTA: addressing the labour shortage (especially as it relates to professional drivers and technicians) and finding new ways to become more environmentally friendly without giving up efficiency or productivity. There are a lot of career opportunities in our industry, and there are numerous creative technical solutions being proposed to reduce our carbon footprint. Of course, we will still
continue to address the issues that arise from COVID-19.
Are there any particular safety programs or offerings in training that your membership should keep in mind for this year?
Dave Earle – Drivers will need to remain cautious out there as snowy and icy conditions will remain in many parts of BC for a few months, which is why chains are a requirement on most routes until April 30. For any members who would like to provide chain up safety training to their drivers, or for those who would like to refresh their skills, BCTA has partnered with ChainSmart- to offer an online training course. Our online CleanBC Heavy-duty Vehicle Efficiency Program training is going strong, teaching participants how to improve fuel economy and lower their operating costs, and this year we’ll continue to offer our popular Managing Workplace Impairment Supervisor Training and National Safety Code Program courses.
Chris Nash – The Association has opened the Long Combination Vehicle program for revision as per AMTA’s review cycle. We offered four workshops in March to cover the changes to the program, the process to enroll students, and access to the course materials.
Courses and safety materials released or under development include Material Handling and Securement for Yard Workers and Drivers and two Micro-Learn video series: Slips, Trips and Falls and Musculoskeletal Injuries. I would like to thank Canada Cartage and Rosenau Transport for their partnerships in completing our Micro-Learns.
Our Certified Transportation Safety Professional (CTSP) designation was made available to safety professionals in Saskatchewan, thanks to a collaboration with the STA.
Susan Ewart – The Trucking Industry Certificate of Recognition is for carriers looking to increase and develop health and safety programs that meet standards established by the OHS both provincially & federally. A Trucking Industry Certificate of Recognition is a commitment to your employees and your customers. It is the building block for a culture of safety.
Aaron Dolyniuk – If a Manitoba-based carrier isn’t yet part of the RPM program, I have to ask why not? All of our data shows that program participants see fewer time-loss injuries, as well as WCB reductions and rebates. We have also introduced the Fleet Safety Managers course this year, which is designed to help fleet safety managers develop the skills for data gathering and analysis for evidence-based decisions. Lockout-Tag Out is another new course to be introduced later in 2022. RPM has thoroughly reviewed and updated all of their courses, so this is the year to take training with us.
Let’s talk about the value of membership and how your Association will be serving the industry in 2022.
Dave Earle – BCTA has never been more active and engaged with our members. Our collaboration with government and stakeholders allows us to pursue practical and meaningful solutions that carriers tell us they need in order to stay competitive and resilient. We plan to launch our new website this year, which will provide better tools to connect with membership. We’re also excited for the return to in-person events to provide that critical networking environment while retaining the use of online platforms to ensure accessibility.
Chris Nash – We will be continuing to navigate industry out of the COVID-19 pandemic; supplying data to drive decisions; advocating for, and engaging in, hydrogen and other alternative fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and advocating on members’ behalf with all levels of government. While COVID-19 saw the cancellation or postponement of many events, 2022 is a year we will be able to gather once more and give members the value of our time. We are looking forward to networking once again and making face-to-face connections.
Susan Ewart – The STA continues to be the leader and voice for truck transport in Saskatchewan. As a strong advocate on behalf of our members, ensuring we are accountable and engaged is critical to remaining relevant. We are constantly striving to bring the highest quality services and build upon an established network of industry experts.
Aaron Dolyniuk – Every year, we sit down and identify priorities for the association for the upcoming year. For 2022, we identified membership growth to ensure we are representative of the diversity of our industry as well as seeking out new opportunities to ensure members are receiving value for their membership. With public health restrictions gradually lifting, we are hopeful we can return to a full events calendar in 2022. We will continue our efforts to advocate on behalf of industry, support members as needed, and educate the general public about Manitoba’s trucking industry.
What advice do you have for entry-level drivers that are entering the industry this year?
Dave Earle – Be safe: no load and no customer are worth taking risks; be engaged: offer your thoughts and suggestions and be involved in your workplace; and be proud: you’ve entered a dynamic, evolving industry that delivers on promises made to Canadians each and every day.
Chris Nash – This is where we’re selling the industry. Pathways are the support towards attracting people to the industry, with funding for programs like Serious Labs VR training to have recognized training for drivers to have throughout their careers.
Take advantage of the programs available by Alberta Government, such as Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) and the Driving Back to Work Grant Program. Utilize resources such as AMTA’s Workplace Support Services. The team is well-versed in everything going on in industry and can work with entry-level drivers to enhance and equip their careers in commercial transportation. Programs like Women Building Futures Class 1 Driver is an opportunity for women to pursue careers in the industry.
Susan Ewart – Research your training provider and find a reputable driving school. Familiarize yourself with the National Safety Code and provincial and federal regulations and find a company with a culture of safety. Good employers put employee health and safety above all. Finally, look for companies that reward safety, provide benefits, or even provide a spousal travel plan.
Aaron Dolyniuk – First, do your research: find out what training schools offer the best programming, not necessarily the fastest training. Do your research when job-hunting, as well. We know it’s hard to find that first job without practical experience, but there are companies with mentorship programs and on-the-job training. Find out what Driver Inc. is, and avoid those companies that operate under that scheme. Do
Looking ahead, what challenges/opportunities do you anticipate for the trucking industry?
Dave Earle – Meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets is a must, and our industry has a crucial role to play toward reducing climate pollution. Heavy-duty zero emission vehicles will be a huge opportunity for the industry once availability increases and price differentials decrease, however the transition will be a challenge. It’s essential that more action is taken to support the adoption of ZEV technology, which includes providing substantial incentives, creating regulation, and developing the required infrastructure.
Chris Nash – The driver shortage will continue to be a challenge for industry but by collaborating with governments, stakeholders like Trucking HR, our fellow associations, and the Canadian Trucking Alliance, I am optimistic industry is doing all it can to find solutions. We are seeing great opportunities in the field of research and innovation with the projects I have mentioned, and I know our R&I team has great aspirations for the coming years.
The need for long-term solutions for GHG reduction, driver shortage, and more are critical.
Susan Ewart – With great challenges comes endless opportunity: this is the case for trucking in 2022. Supply chains continue to feel the enormous weight of several ongoing challenges surrounding COVID-19, and consumers are feeling impacts the most. Finding drivers will be cardinal to limiting some of the stress on our supply chain. Carriers need to highlight their company culture, their commitment to safety, and offer career advancement opportunities.
Aaron Dolyniuk – As previously mentioned, human resources will continue to be a challenge, especially related to driver and technician shortages. Within the labour shortages, supply chain shortages will also be a challenge as our industry faces the same equipment shortages as everyone else. We end up with a double-whammy: we need to ensure we have the horsepower and person-power to keep our industry moving. Opportunities include green trucking, improving safety in the industry, and deciding what the industry looks like post-pandemic.
What makes you the most proud of your Association?
Dave Earle – Our people make me proud to be a part of the BC Trucking Association. BCTA members are why we show up to work every day. Their support of the association and dedication to improving the safety and viability of our industry is truly inspiring. And I’m honoured to work with such a talented group. The BCTA team is second to none. Their experience and expertise help make it happen, one advocacy win at a time.
Chris Nash – The Association wouldn’t be what it is without our staff. Our stakeholders and partners are essential in collaborating to find solutions for industry. We are exploring opportunities for innovation and employer/employee needs to have a safe and efficient supply chain. I am also very proud of the completion of our Cooperative Truck Platooning System on-road trials and our Certified Transportation Safety Professional designation. Whether it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, or natural disasters such as the BC floods, whatever comes our way, we, as an association, are able to pivot to meet these challenges in a way that best serves our membership.
Susan Ewart – The STA is fortunate to be a trusted stakeholder within our ministries. Having a formidable relationship with government officials leads to data and information sharing, which is advantageous to the association. I believe this speaks to staff and Board of Directors of the STA.
Aaron Dolyniuk – At the end of the day, our Association members are focused on what’s best for Manitoba’s trucking industry. Yes, there is competition, but there is also teamwork and collegiality when it comes to doing what’s best for the industry in Manitoba.