The Government of Ontario is making a bold move to address the lack of diversity in the trucking industry.
In a press release Tuesday, the government announced a $1.3 million investment aimed at training 54 individuals from underrepresented groups, including women and immigrants, for truck driving careers. The initiative is part of an effort to meet the growing demand for truck drivers in Ontario, where there is an estimated need for at least 6,100 more drivers.
Premier Doug Ford announced the program, highlighting that only 2% of Ontario’s truck drivers are women. The initiative aims to address this imbalance, while ensuring that the goods are delivered to families and businesses promptly, contributing to the overall economic development of the province.
“This innovative program will help break down barriers to attract more women into the trucking industry,” Premier Doug Ford said in the release. “As we build Ontario, we’re going to need all hands-on deck. That’s why our government is working hard to ensure that all skilled occupations are more accessible and welcoming for women and all under-represented groups.”
The Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada is tasked with leading the project.
The participants will undergo a comprehensive free training program offering up to 200 hours necessary to obtain AZ (tractor-trailer) and DZ (straight truck) licenses. The training will use both virtual reality systems and in-cab, hands-on instruction, providing participants with practical skills to operate commercial vehicles, conduct inspections, maintain the vehicles, and understand commercial vehicle systems and controls.
Challenger Motor Freight, a leading trucking company in Ontario, commended the initiative.
“This initiative does more than merely address the workforce shortage in our industry,” Paul Weatherbie of Challenger Motor Freight said. It opens doors for individuals who might not have previously considered a career in trucking. We wholeheartedly support this innovative and inclusive approach to training.”
In addition to driving skills, the program also includes training in forklift operation, defensive driving, and awareness of critical issues such as workplace violence, harassment, and human trafficking.
Upon completion of the program, the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada will extend further support to the graduates, helping them secure employment as professional drivers.
“Through this program, we’re investing in people and their potential,” Weatherbie said. “This is a golden opportunity for underrepresented groups not just to enter the trucking industry, but to establish a thriving career within it.”
To remove barriers to participation, the program offers comprehensive support to participants, including up to $1,000 for transportation and childcare support, $300 for equipment, and a $400 weekly allowance.
The first cohort of in-person training is set to begin on July 1 and will be available in various Ontario locations, including Kitchener-Waterloo, the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, and London.
It’s funded by the government’s Skills Development Fund, a more than $700 million initiative to connect job seekers with necessary skills and training for well-paying careers.
“This program is a testament to the evolving nature of the trucking industry,” Weatherbie said. “It’s clear that when we invest in people, we invest in the future of the industry, and we couldn’t be more excited about the potential this groundbreaking initiative holds.”
Interested in applying for the Bridging the Gap in Trucking program? You can apply by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.