Skip to content

Training program looks to steer more women into trucking

54 women in Ottawa, GTA and southwestern Ontario part of first training cohort
(Women's Trucking Federation of Canada photo)

The trucking industry needs thousands of drivers and the Ontario government is serving up $1.3 million to provide free training for women, newcomers and other under-represented groups to fill these in-demand jobs.

A provincial news release said today’s funding for a new training program is earmarked to train 54 people in these categories for careers in trucking. According to the numbers produced by the province, only two per cent of drivers in Ontario are women.

Sadly, none of these training dollars are headed for Northern Ontario. The first cohort of training begins July 1 in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo and London.

Steered by the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, the program will provide participants with up to 200 hours of training needed to  obtain AZ (tractor-trailer) and DZ (straight truck) licenses. 

Called the Bridging the Gap in Trucking program, those interested can apply for future cohort by emailing

Instruction will be delivered using both virtual reality systems and in-cab, hands-on training to teach how to operate a commercial vehicle, perform manoeuvres, conduct inspections, how to maintain vehicles and understand vehicle systems and controls.

Also included is training for forklift operation, defensive driving, workplace violence and harassment, and human trafficking awareness. 

Once the training is completed, the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada will work with graduates to land jobs as professional drivers. Drivers average $26 an hour in Ontario. 

Trainees are eligible to pocket up to $1,000 for transportation and childcare support, $300 for equipment along with a $400 weekly allowance.  The program will also reimburse up to $4,500 for childcare and other living expenses.

Spending for this program is coming from the province’s $700-million Skills Development Fund.

"This investment in the trucking industry directly helps more people achieve fulfilling careers as professional drivers,” said Shelley Walker, CEO at Women's Trucking Federation of Canada, in a statement.

“With a significant and growing skilled driver shortage facing Ontario's trucking industry, this initiative is timely in both removing barriers to employment and supporting Ontario's economy. We thank Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton for their leadership and support, and look forward to working with them on this incredibly important initiative.

In a comment, Premier Doug Ford called it an “ innovative program will help break down barriers to attract more women into the trucking industry. As we build Ontario, we’re going to need all hands-on deck.”

Provincial Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton called truckers “everyday heroes who keep the wheels of our economy turning, and we need to ensure more people have a chance to explore these purpose-driven careers.”