Monday, February 6, 2023

Ottawa drops vaccine mandate for its truck drivers after industry pressure

Canada will allow unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers to cross through the United States, Canada’s border agency said on Wednesday, reversing a decision requiring all truck drivers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced pressure from the main opposition party and the trucking lobby to drop a vaccine mandate for truck drivers due to go into effect on Saturday, saying it could lead to driver shortages, disrupting business. and inflation may increase.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said Canadian truck drivers arriving at the US-Canada border without vaccination or partially vaccinated are exempted from testing and quarantine requirements before, on arrival and after arrival. Will go

However, truck drivers in the United States will still need to be vaccinated or turned back at the border from January 15, a spokesperson for the CBSA said.

A Canadian government source said the decision was taken to ensure a smooth supply chain.

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

The trucking industry is dominant, with more than two-thirds of the $650 billion ($511 billion) worth of goods traveling on roads between Canada and the United States.

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

The mandate was the first policy measure taken since the pandemic began that could limit cross-border trucking traffic. Trucks openly crossed the border when the border was closed for 20 months as they were considered necessary to keep supply chains open.

Supply chain disruptions pushed Canada’s headline to an 18-year high in November, and the Bank of Canada has indicated it may raise interest rates as soon as April.

The cost of bringing a truckload of fruits and vegetables from California and Arizona to Canada doubled during the pandemic due to a driver shortage, Steve Bamford, chief executive of Bamford Produce, an importer and exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables based in Ontario, told Reuters. told at last. Week.

Fresh foods are vulnerable to freight problems because they expire faster.

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

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