Atlantic Canada trucking companies call on Ottawa for more driver support


Trucking companies in Atlantic Canada say they feel the need to hire more drivers due to insurance regulations.

Current restrictions prohibit any new out-of-school truck drivers from joining smaller companies. Many small businesses claim that their insurers require them to have two to three years of “relevant” experience, where often the rules are not entirely clear.

Just outside Saint John, Far East Transportation owner Donald Westhaven says it’s been tough. He recently had to sell some of his equipment because he couldn’t find qualified pilots.

“I would love to see someone sit down and try to understand this industry and where it’s pushing it too,” Westhaven said.

“I don’t know if the product will go up and down the road, but they don’t make it easy for drivers.”

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According to the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, there are an estimated 28,000 empty seats across the country, with companies operating at 90% driver capacity.

“I don’t think there are any young new riders interested unless they’re family. If your son grew up with you and loved the business, he might follow in your footsteps. If not, I don’t think anyone isn’t interested. The government doesn’t paint a pretty picture,” Westhaven said.

“Nevertheless, (a new driver) needs two years of experience for an insurance company to put him in a rig for you.”

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The Canadian Trucking Association estimates there will be nearly 50,000 vacancies by 2027, an alarming number for the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.

“Not everyone is able to go out and get into a (training) program that costs $10,000 to $12,000,” association president Trevor Bent said.

“Then there’s also the time to do it, which is around 12 weeks.”

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Bent said he would like to see more incentives from the federal government to help bring more drivers into the system.

The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is calling on Ottawa to do more to help, echoed by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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