Trucking experts react to vaccine mandate

Industry experts warn that the federal government’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers will impact the nation’s supply chain and impede the movement of goods across the border, leading to shortages potential of certain products.

Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) President Stephen Laskowski told CTV’s Your Morning that the new requirement will “certainly have a negative impact” on the supply chain, causing delays in the arrival of goods. to destination.

“There is not a single aspect of the supply chain that will not be impacted by this measure,” Laskowski said Friday.

According to the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association (CME), the trucking industry transports approximately 80% of the $648 billion in annual trade between Canada and the United States.

Laskowski said some sectors will be hit harder than others, due to their ability to safely transport goods with a truck driver who meets new vaccine requirements.

“Certain parts of our supply chain will be more exposed to this because of their ability to secure the movement of goods. So the general direction…is disruption in certain sectors,” he said.

The federal government said Thursday that unvaccinated Canadians will not be exempt from the new federal vaccination mandate for truck drivers that takes effect Saturday.

In a joint statement, Canada’s transport, health and public safety ministers said Canada’s original policy stood, requiring truckers coming into Canada from the United States to be fully vaccinated, or subject to PCR testing and quarantine requirements.

As it stands, unvaccinated Canadian truckers will have to ‘meet pre-entry, arrival and eighth-day testing requirements, as well as quarantine requirements’, as they cannot see each other. refused entry to Canada.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated non-Canadian truckers will be turned away if they are unable to show proof of immunization or a valid medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines.

In order to qualify as a fully vaccinated foreign national, non-Canadian truckers must have completed their course of authorized vaccinations at least 14 days prior to entering the country and have submitted the required information through the ArriveCAN app.

The United States has scheduled a similar mandate to come into effect for any driver crossing into the United States from January 22.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance reports that approximately 10-15% of drivers in the industry are unvaccinated. Laskowski says this mandate would therefore keep about 12,000 Canadian truckers and thousands more from the United States away from cross-border shipping routes.

He noted that would be a sharp reduction in workers for an industry that is already facing a labor shortage.

“When these people leave the market, there are no backups, these trucks just sit there,” Laskowski said. “Unlike other sectors there where you can get people to temporarily fill or fill a period, you can’t, so it will be felt immediately.”

Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, told CTV News Channel on Thursday that it’s important to remember that truck drivers delivered needed supplies amid the pandemic, like medical gases to hospitals, COVID-19 vaccines, food and fuel, which could have disastrous effects if stopped.

“We already have a fractured supply chain and if we damage it, the supplies we need for our own health and safety, we’re going to see a shortage,” Millian warned.

Given the amount of Canadian agri-food imports that arrive in Canada by truck, Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University’s agri-food analysis laboratory, said the mandate would be “the first public health measure that could disrupt trade between Canada and the United States since the start of the pandemic. »

Industry experts across the border are also expressing concern.

In a statement released Thursday, Bob Costello, senior vice president and chief economist of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), urged “leaders in Ottawa and Washington to reconsider these mandates to avoid further economic disruption. “.

Laskowski noted that the trucking industry is not opposed to the vaccine mandate, but was pushing the federal government to work with supply chains to implement the requirement on a “less disruptive” date. “Only on January 15.

“We are very supportive of the use of vaccines. It’s the best tool in the toolbox, but the reality is that the trucking industry is a reflection of Canadian society,” he said.

“Our industry is not immune to the vaccine hesitancy shared by Canadians.”

With files from Rachel Aiello of CTVNews.ca

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