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Trucking Experts Respond to Vaccination Mandate

Industry experts warn that the federal government’s new mandate on the COVID-19 vaccine for truckers will impact the country’s supply chain and hamper the flow of goods across the border, leading to potential shortages of some products.

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

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

According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association (CME), the trucking industry transports about 80 percent of the $ 648 billion annually in Canada-U.S. Trade.

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

“Some 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 the disruption in some areas,” he said. .

The federal government said Thursday that unvaccinated Canadians will not be exempted from the new federal truck driver vaccination mandate that comes into effect on Saturday.

In a joint statement, Canada’s Ministers of Transport, Health and Public Safety said Canada’s original policy remains, requiring truckers arriving in Canada from the United States to be fully vaccinated or to be submitted PCR testing and quarantine requirements.

As it is, unvaccinated Canadian truckers will have to “meet pre-entry, arrival and day 8 testing requirements, as well as quarantine requirements” because they cannot be tested. refuse 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 immunized foreign national, non-Canadian truckers must have completed their series of authorized vaccines 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 warrant to come into effect for any driver entering the United States on or after January 22.

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

He noted that this would be a big reduction in manpower for an industry that is already facing a shortage of manpower.

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

Mike Millian, chairman of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, told CTV News Channel on Thursday that it’s important to remember that truck drivers have delivered needed supplies amid the pandemic, such as 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 that, the supplies that 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 entering Canada by truck, Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory at Dalhousie University, said the warrant 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 so that we can avoid further economic disruption. “.

Laskowski noted that the trucking industry was 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.” »Until January 15th.

“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