Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Industrial Summary

Truck and Ground Passenger Transportation Services

NAICS 4841-4842; 4851-4859

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in the truck transportation of merchandises and in a variety of transit and ground passenger transportation activities (such as urban transit systems, interurban and rural bus transportation, taxi and limousine services). Truck transportation is the largest of the two segments, accounting for 80% of production and 63% of employment in 2016. In comparison, transit and ground passenger transportation accounted for only 20% of production but 37% of employment, making this segment the most labour intensive. Overall, the industry employed 473,300 workers in 2016, mostly concentrated in Ontario (38%), Quebec (22%), Alberta (14%) and British Columbia (13%). The workforce is primarily composed of men (82%) and characterized by a significant proportion of self-employed, particularly in truck transportation (32%). Key occupations (4-digit NOC) include:

  • Transport truck drivers (7511)
  • Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators (7512)
  • Taxi and limousine drivers and chauffeurs (7513)
  • Supervisors, motor transport and other ground transit operators (7305)
  • Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers (7321)
  • Material handlers (7452)
  • Managers in transportation (0731)
  • Dispatchers (1525)
  • Railway and motor transport labourers (7622) Transportation route and crew schedulers (1526) Ground and water transport ticket agents, cargo service representatives and related clerks (6524)

The industry closely tracks the performance of the domestic economy, as roughly three quarters of revenues in truck transportation are domestic freight, with the largest users being the retail and wholesale trade industries and the goods-producing industries (agriculture, resources, manufacturing and construction). Transit and ground passenger transportation is also strongly influenced by the degree of urbanization and the associated demand for public transit systems across major cities in Canada. After being negatively affected by the recession of 2008-2009, production and employment in the industry increased at a solid pace between 2010 and 2016, driven by the improvement in domestic economic conditions and increased activity in public transit systems, largely resulting from the expansion of the SkyTrain in Vancouver, the subway in Montreal and the C-Train network in Calgary. On average, real GDP and employment increased at annual rates of 2.2% and 1.5% respectively over the period 2007-2016, outperforming the overall economy in terms of output growth and job creation. Employment growth was particularly strong in the transit and ground passenger transportation segment, averaging 2.9% annually.

Over the period 2017-2026, the industry’s output is projected to keep increasing at a solid pace, supported by healthy growth in retail and wholesale trade activities. However, the weaker pace of growth anticipated in final domestic demand is expected to lower output growth marginally relative to the period 2007-2016, particularly in truck transportation. This factor is expected to be partly offset by stronger increases in exports, spurred by a vigorous U.S. economy and the relatively low value of the Canadian dollar. This will help supporting demand for the transportation of merchandises across the border. With the collapse of crude oil prices in 2014, fuel costs are projected to remain low over the short- to medium-term, resulting in lower prices and/or higher profits in the industry. Furthermore, the industry will continue to benefit from the gradual displacement of the Canadian population toward urban centers over the coming years, increasing the need to ease road congestion with more public transit services. A desire to decrease emissions and pollution is also expected to entice more commuters to use environmentally-friendly public transit systems. This demand should be met in part by major commuter-rail projects under construction in Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa. On average, real GDP in the industry is projected to increase by 2.0% annually over the period 2017-2026, compared to 0.8% for employment. Job creation is expected to be constrained by labour shortages for truck drivers and productivity-enchancing technologies. While driverless vehicles are already in use in controlled environments like ports, mines and even Alberta’s oil sands, it is unlikely that driverless freight trucks will appear on the roads over the next five years. Over the next decade, however, driverless trucks and cars are a real possibility. Until then, truck drivers are expected to face significant labour shortages, especially those involved in long-haul operations who are particularly difficult to attract (specific requirements in terms of driver licenses and driving skills, lengthy periods of time being away from home, etc.). On the other hand, non-traditional driving services like Uber should continue to affect traditional taxi services, decreasing prices for consumers and lowering demand for taxi drivers.

Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Truck and Ground Passenger Transportation Services

Figure showing the annual growth of real GDP and employment over the periods 2007-2016 and 2017-2026 for the industry of Truck and Ground Passenger Transportation Services. The data is shown on the table following this figure

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).

Text Version of Figure Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Truck and Ground Passenger Transportation Services, 2007-2016 and 2017-2026, in Percent
  Real GDP Employment
2007-2016 2.2 1.6
2017-2026 2.0 0.8

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).


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