A Quick Guide to the State of Truck Driving In Canada

Red Kenworth W900 Driving on Sunny Day

Truck driving in Canada: The Canadian trucking industry finds itself struggling to keep drivers.  The wages have not kept up to the rapid increase in the cost of living in Canada.

This scenario has caused a high rate of turnover in the Canadian trucking industry, and thus a shortage of skilled, qualified truck drivers.

Some Canadian truck drivers are leaving the trucking industry to seek out higher paying jobs in other industries, such as construction.

Canadian Highway with Truck

5 Reasons For the Canada Truck Driver Shortage

As a result of this shortage of drivers, the Canadian government, through its immigration branch is reaching out internationally to attract foreign drivers, to fill the empty seats.

Proportionately, the truck driver shortage in Canada is worse than in the United States, according to the Conference Board of Canada Statistics.

It is estimated Canada will be need 33,000 drivers by 2020. Canada is a country  with a much smaller population to draw from than the U.S., in order to fill empty truck seats.

  1. Low pay. The Conference Board lays the blame for the shortage squarely on low driver pay and less than adequate working conditions.
  2. Not a highly respected career. Add to the fact that a truck driving career is considered to be a far less respected career than it is in the U.S.
  3. H.O.S. are long. The driving hours allowed in Canada are longer. Canada has only a handful of good, full service truck stops spread across a vast geography, with most of those being in southern Ontario.
  4. Truck driver training costs. The cost of newly mandated truck driver training has also severely impacted the number of potential drivers looking to hop into a career as a professional truck driver.
  5. Lack of truck parking. Serious lack of  safe truck parking.

It’s no wonder there are low numbers of candidates wanting to pursue a truck driving career anymore.

Related > Truck Driver Salary  Reference Guide 

Truck Driver Pay – Canada

It should be noted that the Immigration Canada website is less than truthful when it states trucking jobs in Canada can exceed $70,00 per annum.

After many, many years experience in the trucking industry, I can say without hesitation, that very few Canadian truck drivers are earning over $70,000, as a company driver.

On average, Canadian truck drivers can realistically expect to earn between $40,000 to $50,000 annually, depending where the trucking company is located in Canada and the niche.

Ice Road Trucking in Canada

The Canadian ice roads attract drivers outside of Canada. There is a process for non-Canadians to apply for ice road jobs, but the process is much more complex, than for Canadian citizens. The turnover rate is huge with ice road trucking jobs, due to the extreme driving conditions.

However, it is still a big draw and an exciting adventure for a handful of successful candidates.

Related > Ice Road Trucking Jobs – Tips to Start Your IRT Career

Diversity in the Canadian Trucking Industry

Truck driving in Canada is really quite diverse, with every kind of trucking from ice road trucking to logging, long haul cross country work, regional and local work.

There are plenty of general freight companies, both large and small as well as niche trucking such as heavy haul, tanker trucking jobs, flatbed jobs and oversized freight hauling.

About 70% or so of all Canadian trucking is cross border work, in and out of the U.S.

Convoy of Big Rigs

Border Crossing – The F.A.S.T. Card

Truckers who need to cross the Canada/U.S. border require a F.A.S.T. Card, which includes a clean criminal search.

Drivers with a clean criminal history are in big demand in Canada, as trucking companies like to hire drivers who can be dispatched anywhere, not just within Canada, especially with the lingering shortage of truck drivers.

If you hold a F.A.S.T. card as a Canadian truck driver, you will find you will definitely have more driving job opportunities open to you than other Class AZ drivers without a F.A.S.T. card.

Owner Operator Jobs Canada

Owner operators are in demand also in Canada.  The rate of renumeration in Canada for owner operators varies widely, depending on the niche. Most independents are also paid a fuel subsidy as well, to offset the high diesel fuel prices.

Related > Truck Driving Jobs Guide 

Top Trucking Companies in Canada

Looking for OTR carriers? Companies which hire new truck drivers without experience? Or maybe you’re looking for a carrier in a particular province in Canada?

  1. Check out The Top Trucking Companies to Work For in Canada

There are a few mega Canadian mega carriers: Challenger Motor Freight in Ontario, Bison and TransX in Manitoba and Mullens in Alberta.

It is fair to say that all of Canada’s big carriers would like to attract foreign workers to fill their empty trucks.

Related > 9 of the Highest Paying Trucking Jobs You Should Know About 

Services For Truckers – Canadian Truck Stops

In spite of the fact that trucking is so widespread in Canada, the truck stop facilities are few in number, and most of the ones that do exist, are sub-standard.

There are a few major truck stops along the Ontario/Quebec 401 corridor and in major city centers such as Winnipeg, Calgary and Toronto. Otherwise, they are virtually non-existent  on many long expanses of highways.

It can be challenging for truckers to find fuel stops and clean shower facilities.  When considering the 3600 miles of highway from the east coast of Canada to the Canadian west coast, truck stops can be as much as several hundred miles apart.

This makes trucking in Canada even more challenging, with only a limited number of places to stop for rest and meals.

Canadian Hours of Service

Due to the vastness of the Canadian highways, Canadian hours of service allow truck drivers to drive 13 hour workdays in most of Canada, and even longer days of driving, north of the 60th parallel.

Challenges of Truck Driving in Canada

Canadian winters and some of the rugged terrain, create some very challenging driving for truckers, especially in the mountains.

The present shortage of qualified truck drivers, the less than adequate driver wages, the long list of stringent rules and regulations, the implementation of electronic log books, combined with the overcrowded roadways on the major routes, truck driving in Canada certainly is not as appealing as it once was, a few decades ago.

However, it can still be an attractive career, if a driver or owner operator hires on with a good paying, fair trucking company.

Related > 7 Mountain Driving Tips For Truck Drivers 

Truck Driving in Canada – Resources

Oversize load on big rig

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