The Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) continues to be a champion for the industry in Saskatchewan.
Jordan Ewart, a policy analyst at the STA, said Saskatchewan is a land-locked province, so it is extremely dependent on heavy trucks to move its goods, and to make the economy go.
The STA advocates the provincial and federal government on behalf of its members and works diligently to encourage more individuals to enter the industry, especially as drivers.
“There’s a well-documented driver shortage across Canada, so we’ve really worked to modernize recruitment and retention practices for HR managers and such at trucking companies,” said Ewart.
The organization also stresses training and safety, as they just introduced a certificate of recognition (COR) program that is the first of its kind for the transportation sector in Saskatchewan.
The emphasis on safety is constantly growing. In March 2019, the province introduced mandatory entry level training with 121 1/2 hours.
“From our point of view, it is a good step for our province as far as developing safe drivers for our province,” said Ewart. “Now it’s not a perfect program, and we would like to see safety go a lot further in our province. But considering that nothing like this existed before 2019, I think our province is doing a fairly good job at making safe roads.”
The STA has been trying to ramp up its efforts to deliver professional driver improvement courses and long combination vehicle courses.
The STA has also announced a new program for women to enter the industry to get a Class 1A licence. Ewart described it as a pre-employment, work experience style program, and the goal is to help unemployed and underemployed women earn a job in the transportation industry and get an opportunity to obtain a Class 1A licence.
A new venture was to introduce a Professional Driver of the Month recognition program a few months ago in which a dedicated, respected driver is saluted.
“That was created, basically, for the different men and women behind the wheels who make our industry what it is. We wanted to highlight the passion that exists in the trucking industry. We talked to all sorts of drivers and there’s always one common theme in those conversations, and that’s just how passionate these people are.”
These are the people who have kept working in the midst of a global pandemic, and they do so with a sense of professionalism and without complaint. Of course, the STA could recognize more than just one a month.
“The drivers that we do have now are safe drivers,” Ewart said. “Some of the drivers that get recognized have more than a million and a half safe miles of driving, so that just kind of speaks to the dedication and commitment and skill of some of these drivers on the road.”
The people who have been recognized will receive a couple of awards and a hat.
“We’ve had multiple companies reach out to us and we’re starting to get a bit of a demand for highlighting their drivers as the Professional Driver of the Month, so we’re excited about this, and I think it’s something that we’ll continue to do.”
At the end of the year, the STA will announce a Driver of the Year, which could be anybody, and not just someone who won Driver of the Month.