A Manitoba truck company is dealing with a shortage of drivers by recruiting from Jamaica.

“We’re continually trying to find new drivers,” said Ron Wensel of Arnold Brothers Transport.

Wensel said there’s a massive shortage of truck drivers across Canada right now, with about 16,000 to 18,000 drivers needed. At his company, they need about 12 drivers.

Part of the problem is an aging driver population and a growing industry.

Andrew Ryan

Andrew Ryan came from St. Catherine, Jamaica to drive trucks in Manitoba. He and five other drivers from Jamaica are filling a big need at Arnold Brothers Transport. (Ryan Hicks/CBC)

The industry may be forced to increase wages to attract people to the job.

“In the end, it’s the consumers of all the different products that’ll end up paying an increased price for that,” said Wensel.

To avoid that, the company has been recruiting from a much sunnier location.

Andrew Ryan arrived in Manitoba just three months ago to drive for the company. He’s one of six truck drivers Arnold Brothers Transport has recruited from Jamaica.
“I came here in the winter and had never driven on ice before,” said Ryan. “That’s a big difference.”

Ryan and the other drivers went through weeks of training before they could drive for the company, including two weeks of driver’s school and four weeks of training with the company. They also do a period of driving with a more experienced employee.

The 38 year old has already travelled to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

What attracted him to the prairie post? Better pay and job security, he said.

But the job isn’t without its difficulties.

“I’m missing my family, mostly,” said Ryan. “I miss my kids. Especially my kids.”

But he hopes to bring his family to the province once he’s settled in. According to Ryan, he plans to stay for awhile.