Industry experts are expressing concern that confusion over the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers this week could leave some drivers under the impression they would be exempted if they were already on the way .
Mike Milian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, told CTV News in an emailed statement that the group is seeking temporary exemptions for non-vaccinated truck drivers who have been booked by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The latter was sent earlier this week. Will be exempted from giving or providing proof of a negative molecular test at the border.
“Due to the news broadcast on the 13th and no clarification or correction to the messaging … many carriers shipped some unrelated drivers to the US to cover the load,” Milian said in the statement.
He said the trucking industry was not provided with clarity on the mandate until the federal government announced Thursday publicly that unvaccinated Canadians would not be exempt from the new federal vaccine mandate for truck drivers, which took effect on Saturday. will be given.
In a joint statement, Canada’s Ministers of Transport, Health and Public Safety said Canada’s initial policy is that truck drivers coming to Canada from the US should be fully vaccinated, or face PCR testing and quarantine requirements. could.
CBSA told reporters on Wednesday that Canadian truck drivers arriving at the border would be “exempted” from testing or quarantine requirements, saying information provided by a spokesman for the government was inaccurate.
Milian says “it’s all flip flopping” in messaging has caused “collective confusion” in the trucking industry.
“If the message provided late Wednesday was in error, why did it take authorities more than 16 hours to issue a statement correcting the error?” He said in the statement. “This 16-hour silence has thrown the lives of many drivers into turmoil and a miscommunication from government officials has resulted in some being home quarantined for 14 days.”
As things stand, and as was initially the case before this week’s confusion, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers “must meet requirements for pre-entry, arrival and day eight tests, as well as quarantine requirements,” Because they cannot be denied entry. in Canada.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated non-Canadian truck drivers will be turned away if they are unable to show proof of vaccination or a valid medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines.
To qualify as a fully vaccinated foreign national, non-Canadian truck drivers must complete their authorized vaccine series at least 14 days prior to entering the country and submit the required information via the ArriveCAN app. Have to do
The US plans a similar mandate to take effect for any driver arriving in the states from January 22.
supply chain concerns
Milian told CTV news channel earlier on Thursday that it’s important to remember that truck drivers are carrying essential supplies, such as medical gas, COVID-19 vaccines, food and fuel, to hospitals amid the pandemic, which could have a devastating effect on the halt. can.
“We already have a fragmented supply chain and if we damage it, the supplies we need for our health and safety, we are going to see a shortage,” Milian warned.
Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) president Stephen Laskowski told CTV’s Your Morning that the need for a new COVID-19 vaccine for truck drivers would “definitely have a negative impact” on the supply chain, causing delays in reaching their destinations. is happening.
“There is not a single aspect of the supply chain that will not be affected by this measure,” Laskowski said on Friday.
According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) Association, the trucking industry transfers about 80 percent of the annual $648 billion in Canada-US trade.
Laskowski said some sectors will be tougher than others, based on their ability to secure freight transport with a truck driver who meets the new vaccine requirements.
“Parts of our supply chain will be more exposed based on their ability to secure freight. So the general … direction is disruption in some areas,” he said.
The CTA reports that approximately 10 to 15 percent of drivers in the industry are without vaccinations. Laskowski says this mandate will therefore take an estimated 12,000 Canadian truckers and thousands more through cross-border shipping routes from the US.
He said this would lead to a severe shortage of workers for the industry already facing labor shortage.
“When these individuals leave the market, there is no backup, they sit in the truck,” Laskowski said. “Unlike other areas where we can get people to fill temporarily or fill periods, we can’t, so it will be felt right away.”
Considering how much of Canada’s agri-food imports arrive in Canada by truck, Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory at Dalhousie University, said the mandate would be “the first public health measure that would allow trade between Canada and Canada to grow.” could disrupt the United States since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Industry experts on the other side of the border are also expressing concern.
In a statement released Thursday, Bob Costello, a senior vice president and chief economist for the American Trucking Association (ATA), urged “the leaders of Ottawa and Washington to reconsider these mandates so that we can avoid any further economic disruption.”
Laskowski noted that the trucking industry is not opposed to the vaccine mandate, but was lobbying the federal government to work with supply chains to implement the requirement on a “less disruptive” date than January 15.
“We very much support 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 hesitation shared by Canadians.”
With files from Rachel Aiello of CTVNews.ca