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Canada drops vaccine mandate for truckers after industry pressure

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Canada will allow unvaccinated Canadian truckers through the United States, overturning a decision requiring all truckers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Canada border agency said on Wednesday.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had come under pressure from the main opposition party and the trucking lobby to drop the mandate of vaccines for truckers, which is due to go into effect on Saturday, saying it could lead to a shortage of drivers, disrupt trade and drive up inflation.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has said unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Canadian truck drivers arriving at the Canada-U.S. Border will remain exempt from testing and quarantine requirements before arrival, upon arrival and after. the arrival.

However, U.S. truckers will still need to be vaccinated or they will be turned back at the border starting Jan. 15, a CBSA spokesperson said.

A Canadian government source said the decision was made to ensure smooth supply chains.

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Trudeau’s Liberal government had set a deadline for Saturday requiring all truckers entering from the United States to present proof of vaccination as part of its fight against COVID-19.

With more than two-thirds of the $ 650 billion in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States traveling on the roads, the trucking industry is essential.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) had estimated that the government’s mandate could force some 16,000 cross-border drivers – 10% of them – off the roads.

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The mandate was the first political step taken since the start of the pandemic that could limit cross-border trucking traffic. Trucks crossed the border freely when the border was closed for 20 months, as they were seen as essential to keeping supply chains open.

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Supply chain disruptions made headlines across Canada to an 18-year high in November, and the Bank of Canada has indicated it could raise interest rates as early as April.

The cost of bringing a truckload of fruits and vegetables from California and Arizona to Canada has doubled during the pandemic due to a shortage of drivers, Steve Bamford, managing director of Bamford Produce, an importer, told Reuters and exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables based in Ontario. the week.

Fresh food is susceptible to freight issues because it expires quickly.

The Biden administration wants truck drivers in companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly, a policy that has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

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