Workplace Harassment In The Trucking Industry

With Bill C-65 about to become law, is the trucking industry ready to pivot and open itself to new opportunities?

By Isabella Akaliza

The new regulations apply to all federally-regulated employers, including trucking and logistics companies that operate outside of their home province. 

These employers now have a legal obligation to understand and implement an anti-harassment framework for their workplaces. A 2019 Trucking HR research study concluded that 15% of employees in the industry experienced an incident of workplace harassment or violence during the previous 12 months. In fact, half of the workers polled said that they have been affected by this issue over their career. However, half of the employers surveyed by Trucking HR Canada said they had no formal process for preventing or managing incidents of workplace harassment and violence, and 60% did not provide mandatory workplace harassment or violence training for their employees. 

With more than 20,000 unfilled truck driver positions in Canada, and with 60% of transport truck drivers over 45 years of age, and more than 30% over 55 years old, can the trucking industry benefit from Bill C-65? 

Many agree that anti-harassment frameworks will improve the diversity and inclusion in the trucking industry. As it stands, Canadian transport truck drivers are much older than the average for the workforce in Canada. Less than 18 percent of truck drivers in Canada are from the millennial generation—people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s— compared to 34 percent in the overall workforce. Furthermore, the truck driver occupation is dominated by men – only 3 percent of drivers identify as female.

The trucking industry is rapidly changing. Its workforce is aging. Fewer young workers are entering the industry. At the same time, there are increasing demands for truck drivers as industries relying on trucking continue to grow. 

This means there is an urgent need for the trucking industry to recruit, develop and retain employees to meet the needs of its customers and consumers, and continue its critical role in supporting Canada’s economic growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in layoffs, due to a reduction in demand for their services, which has resulted in a moderating of labour shortages in the short term. It seems that this reprieve from labour shortages may be short lived. Recent labour market intelligence from Trucking HR Canada, indicates that shortages within the truck driver occupation will reach and even exceed our pre-COVID labour market projections by 2023. The implementation of successful recruitment and retention strategies is more important than ever. Canada’s labour force has increasing numbers of women, visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities. People come to today’s workplace with different backgrounds and different needs and expectations. 

These groups are currently underrepresented in trucking, which means there are untapped labour pools for which the industry needs an attraction and retention strategy. And perhaps Bill C -36 might just be the answer! Boiled down to the basics, the regulations are about ensuring that federally-regulated employers are all working from the same rulebook when it comes to handling workplace harassment and violence. 

The hope is that these new rules will bring consistency to what employees can expect from their company, in terms of rights, responsibilities, and guarantees. 

To achieve this, employers will have to take steps to prevent workplace harassment and violence, respond appropriately and in a timely manner if it occurs, and provide support to affected employees.  

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