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Trucking continues to play a vital role in Sask. economy

The Saskatchewan Trucking Association is saluting truck drivers and trucking companies for their contributions to the economy.
Semi truck trucking
Truck drivers move the economy day and night, and they are even more essential in landlocked, resource- and export-based Saskatchewan.

REGINA - The Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) is celebrating the impact of the industry in this province and the entire country during National Trucking Week from Sept. 3-9.

Susan Ewart, the executive director of the STA, said Saskatchewan is a land-locked province without a port to move goods, so trucking becomes even more important.

"We consider trucking to be that supply chain, value-added piece that sometimes gets overlooked, but it is critical to moving the goods that Saskatchewan produces out of our province, and getting them to where they need to go," she said.

The STA promotes the industry through social media and different events. They attend functions on the industry's behalf. They have ongoing conversations with government to help elected officials understand the importance of trucking and some of the barriers that might exist, such as labour shortages.

"We do have different campaigns that we run. We talk a lot about what we call We are Trucking, which really gives you an idea of what it looks like to be in trucking, and for people to think about it."

Among their campaigns is a humourous one that says "Life didn't bring you lemons. It came to you on a truck".

"We try to emphasize that relationship between the goods and services that individuals purchase when they go to the grocery store or Walmart, that those goods really did arrive here by truck. So, we do a lot of work on that particular front, as well as encouraging members to participate with us in different types of events," said Ewart.

They are involved with Canada's Farm Show in Regina, the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show in Weyburn and more. They also participate with the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

The STA has a couple of activities planned for Trucking Week. On Sept. 5, they held an open house at their office in Regina. They invited their members, people in the trucking industry and the general public to come chat, enjoy coffee and a donut, and try out the STA's new virtual reality technology that they've been working to develop for the past two years.

"It really is about an introduction to employment and what it looks like to work in the trucking industry as a driver," Ewart said. "We're really excited to see it, and maybe get some people to test it out."

Daniel Price, the project co-ordinator with Regina Work Prep, spearheaded the VR project.

"They were already doing career promotions with other types of industries and recognizing that trucking really needs drivers," said Ewart. "We need to show that next generation what it looks like to work in the trucking industry, so through some conversations with Regina Work Prep and Daniel, they received some funding and … we were able to bring them the subject-matter experts to create that initial VR for the industry that will help the next generation."

Participants learn how to enter a truck, perform a pre-trip inspection, conduct a circle check and more.

Then on Sept. 7, the STA has their annual barbecue planned for the weigh scales on Highway 11 between Regina and Saskatoon.

"It's our opportunity to thank the drivers for the work that they do in moving our economy, our goods and services, so we are handing out hamburgers and hotdogs, chips and pops, and we have lots of volunteers and members of our own team that will be out there just to thank our professional drivers for the work that they do," she said.

The trucking industry has encountered labour shortages that Ewart said seem to be growing. The drivers are aging and they have had lots of retirements. There hasn't been a lot of interest among younger generations about being a professional driver.

The STA tries to dispel myths and show what it is really like.

"A lot of our members are leaders in different types of technology or using innovative work scheduling to make sure there's good work-life balance for people working for them," said Ewart. 

Drivers get to travel and see lots of different parts of Canada and the U.S., and they meet lots of people they wouldn't encounter otherwise, all because of their chosen career path.

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