Millions in federal funding to train, onboard new truck drivers

Arjit Singh is investing the time to train for a new career in trucking, and Canada’s federal government is investing in him throughout the journey.

The One for Freight employee is one of the first candidates to benefit from $43 million in federal funding to train and onboard up to 2,600 new truck drivers and other industry workers through Trucking HR Canada’s Career ExpressWay Program.

“It is going really good,” the former dock supervisor said Monday morning, as the program was formally announced behind him. “[Fleet trainers and mentors] teach me how to tackle the day-to-day situations, how to be on the road carefully, the responsibilities.” And he added that he looks forward to a job that pays well and offers a sense of responsibility.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra visited One for Freight to formally announce a program that will help train and onboard 2,600 truck drivers and other industry workers. (Photo: John G. Smith)

The program itself offers up to $20,000 to prepare each truck driver, with up to half of that available for entry-level training, and a similar amount to fund onboarding, mentoring, and finishing programs.

Another $3 million in funding has been provided to help Trucking HR Canada update a national occupational standard for entry-level and occupational-level truck drivers, and use Census data to update labor market information data.

While the actual cost of establishing a job-ready truck driver is closer to $25,000, the federal funding helps “take the edge off”, said One for Freight CEO David Carruth, welcoming the initiative.

Graduates of entry-level driver training programs still need further support, he stressed, referring to other layers that include mentorships and internal training programs.

Canada’s truck driver shortage

And Canada undeniably needs new job-ready truck drivers.

“Truck drivers are critical to our supply chains,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said, noting that the shortage of truck drivers was a central theme in a report by the National Supply Chain Task Force.

“Right now, this industry has about 27,000 truck driver vacancies. About one in three truck drivers in Canada — 32% — is 55 years or older compared to one in five workers, just 22%, in the entire Canadian labor force. If nothing is done, this truck driver shortage will continue to increase to a point where it is estimated that it could reach over 55,000 vacancies by the end of this year.”

Admitting that the announcement will not solve the shortage on its own, it will help align talent and job opportunities, he said.

“This funding will provide training subsidies and wage subsidies to support the recruitment, training and onboarding of up to 1,400 new truck drivers and 1,200 workers in other in-demand occupations in the trucking sector.”

truck driver Arjit Singh
Arjit Singh will be one of the first truck drivers to benefit from new federal training funds. (Photo: John G. Smith)

Supporting the supply chain

“The labor shortages in the trucking sector are putting pressure on the prices and availability of [available] goods,” added Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada. “With the cost of living already climbing for Canadians from coast to coast, this investment today will help employers across the country in getting the workers they need – which will, in turn, help to move the goods that Canadians need.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) was among the first industry groups to welcome the program.

“CTA and the provincial associations have worked very hard to raise awareness to the federal  government of the need to bring in new employees, including safe and professionally trained drivers who can be deployed in support of our customers and the supply chain,” CTA chairman Greg Munden said in a press release.

“When the economy’s doing well, trucking companies do well, and when trucking companies do well, the economy does well. So we want to make sure that that relationship continues to be strong,” Alghabra added. “When it’s strong, it attracts even more people.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra takes to the podium to announce new training funds. (Photo: John G. Smith)

Checks and balances for training

The funding is available for any fleet, but applicants will need to ensure that the supported training aligns with federal mandatory entry-level training requirements, submit pay stubs, and show source deductions. The source deductions would exclude so-called Driver Inc. fleets that misclassify employees as independent contractors.

“There are a lot of checks and balances — from reporting, to potential audits, to verification,” Alghabra said, responding to a question from “We’ve worked with Trucking HR [Canada] on many different projects in the past, and there’s an ongoing understanding of what [the] public’s expectations are, what the industry needs are, and we work together.”

Truck driver training will also be on the agenda later this week when the Council of Ministers meets in Ottawa, the transportation minister added.

“Trucking schools are incredibly important to the future of the industry.”

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