Rolling strong: Celebrating the vital impact of truck drivers

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Observed annually in September, National Trucking Week is a dedicated occasion that underscores the significance of Canada’s trucking industry. 

Throughout the weeklong event, September 3-9 this year, the crucial role that truckers undertake in maintaining the nation’s operations takes centre stage.

Economy’s backbone 

Trucking is the lifeblood of Canada’s economy, connecting cities, towns, and rural communities by transporting goods across vast distances.

From the fresh produce on grocery store shelves to the latest gadgets in electronic stores, a significant portion of the products Canadians rely on are moved by trucks.

National Trucking Week highlights the tireless efforts of truck drivers, dispatchers, mechanics, and other professionals who work together to ensure that goods are delivered safely and on time. 

Marco Beghetto, Vice President of Communications for the Ontario Trucking Association understands the importance of truck drivers in Canada better than most. 

“The trucking landscape has evolved over the last decade. In a nutshell, this is a very adaptive industry, it always seems to roll with the punches, no matter what’s thrown at it,” Beghetto said. 

“COVID-19 of course, was a huge disrupter, and our industry, probably more than most sectors, adapted accordingly and was on the frontlines delivering the essential goods and products that Canadians need. 

“Whether it’s COVID, floods in BC, or forest fires, the trucking industry always steps up and answers the call.”

Honouring Hard Work

This year, various events have been organized across the country to celebrate and appreciate the contributions of trucking professionals.

From awards ceremonies to truck parades, these events bring the industry into the spotlight and showcase the expertise and dedication of those who keep the wheels turning.

Trucking companies and organizations acknowledge their employees’ hard work and the sacrifices they make while being on the road, away from their families for extended periods. 

Unfortunately, not all companies play by the rules, and it’s a growing concern nation-wide. 

“We always have challenges. It’s an ever-changing fluid industry. But the biggest issue of the day for the industry of the last five years at least, is something called driver Inc.,” Beghetto told the Advertiser. 

“Driver Inc. is an operating system used by unscrupulous carriers to operate within the underground economy.”

Essentially, companies misclassify employee drivers as independent operators. 

They operate the company’s equipment; and the company pays for the fuel and maintenance. In other words, the driver who the company claims is an independent contractor, has no assets whatsoever.

“It’s a misclassification scheme for the company to avoid paying federal taxes, payroll taxes – mandatory payments like vacation, severance, and so forth,” Beghetto said. 

“It’s the issue that has been plaguing the compliant, responsible industry. It clearly disrupts the playing field, because a company’s biggest or second biggest cost is often labour. Some companies pay their employees accordingly and are complying, while others are undercutting the system by masking their employees as contractors.”

Raising Awareness

National Trucking Week serves as an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges the industry faces. 

Issues like driver shortages, long hours, and the need for improved infrastructure are brought to the forefront of public discourse. 

By shedding light on these challenges, the week encourages conversations about how to make the trucking industry safer, more efficient, and more attractive to new generations of workers. 

“The driver shortage issue is always ongoing,” Beghetto said. 

“It’s become more severe and more acute over the years, but the industry is modernizing and becoming more contemporary. It’s adapting to the new generation of workers and their lifestyles.”

According to a newly published special vacancy report by HR trucking Canada, data shows that for the first quarter of 2023, the number of job vacancies are up in both the truck transportation sector, and for the transport truck driver occupation.

“The prime tool we have is our ‘Choose to Truck’ campaign that was launched in 2001,” Beghetto added. 

The campaign was primarily targeted to millennials through social media and was meant to showcase the opportunities within the industry. 

It was also meant to dispel the myths that still exist in social circles and communities.

“Not only are we trying to reach young people, but we’re trying to send messages to the adults in those people’s lives who are helping young people make career choices.”

Gratitude and Safety

Members of the public are encouraged to show their gratitude to truckers during the week. Whether it’s a simple thank-you wave on the highway or sharing positive stories on social media, these small acts of appreciation go a long way in boosting the morale of trucking professionals. 

Recognizing the hardships drivers face and acknowledging their dedication helps build a stronger bond between the industry and the communities it serves. 

When it comes to safety on Canada’s highways, Beghetto asserts that much of the responsibility falls on the public to adopt good driving habits. 

“Truck drivers statistically, and frankly in any sort of qualitative or quantitative measurement, are the safest drivers on the road. They’re trained to operate their vehicles and share the road with passenger vehicles,” he said. 

“Things like sharing the roads with trucks, making sure you’re not in a truck drivers blind spot, and following too closely, are important things to be aware of and vigilant about.”

Looking Ahead

As Canada’s population grows and online shopping continues to surge, the demand for trucking services will only increase. 

The industry’s success is intertwined with the nation’s prosperity. 

National Trucking Week in Canada is a time to reflect on the significant impact of the trucking industry on the country’s economy and daily life. It’s a week to honour the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of those who keep goods moving across the vast Canadian landscape.

As the industry navigates through changes and challenges, this annual celebration serves as a reminder of the vital role that trucking professionals play in shaping the nation’s future.

Advertorial Writer