A group representing Canadian truck drivers has issued a dire warning that upcoming COVID-19 vaccine requirements could devastate an already struggling supply chain.
In a statement issued on December 12, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) warns that two impending vaccine mandates will result in a mass exodus from the trucking industry.
Starting in early 2022, the Canadian government will require vaccines for workers all in federally regulated industries — including the trucking industry.
“Mandatory vaccination requirements are already in place for the public sector, employees working in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors, and travelers on these modes of transportation. The new regulations would ensure that employees in all other federally regulated industries, such as road transportation, telecommunications, and banking, are also vaccinated,” officials said in a news release.
Also going into effect in January 2022 is a Biden Administration vaccine mandate for those crossing the border into the U.S. that that will impact truckers and other essential travelers.
In an October 12 statement, federal officials stated that “beginning in early January 2022, DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. This approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.”
The CTA warns that thousands of truckers could immediately leave trucking in January due to the two vaccine mandates.
“Combined with the cross-border vaccine mandate announced last month, CTA estimates that, by the time the domestic vaccine mandate also takes effect, between 15,000 and 30,000 Canadian truck drivers would immediately exit the supply chain or choose to work for Driver Inc, companies – a growing subset of carriers operating in the underground economy, who sidestep safety, labour and environmental rules and who routinely misclassify employee truck drivers as contractors to avoid tax and labour obligations, like the proposed vaccine mandate,” the group said in a news release.
“This is not a trucking issue at all. This is a supply chain issue that can have severe ripple effects throughout the entire North American economy,” says CTA president Stephen Laswowski. “It hasn’t been easy, but the Canadian trucking industry has continued to move the economy through the global pandemic as efficiently as possible despite continuous challenges and obstacles. We have done that by working with governments and health care experts to implement health and safety protocols that keep our workforce safe while also ensuring factories keep operating and store shelves remain full.”
A number of U.S. lawmakers are also calling on Biden to reverse course on the cross-border vaccine mandate in order to prevent a supply chain crisis.
In a letter to Biden, U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer, Steve Daines, John Thune, John Hoeven, Mike Crapo, Jim Risch, Cynthia Lummis, and Mike Braun voiced concerns over the chaos that the vaccine mandate could create in the transportation industry.
Trucking is the largest mode of surface trade with Canada; every day, there are approximately 14,000 total truck entries along the U.S.-Canada border hauling more than $846 million of goods. Any disruptions to the continuity of U.S.-Canada trade would likely have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond our shared border.
In the coming weeks, both the U.S. and Canada intend to implement vaccination requirements on foreign truck drivers. Despite the good intentions underpinning this action, we fear that the imposition of vaccination mandates as a requirement to cross the land border will exacerbate the existing challenges facing our freight networks and supply chain, and could further fuel inflation and rising prices on top of what Americans are already seeing. Our nation’s truck drivers worked diligently during the pandemic to facilitate critical cross-border freight movements that helped to feed and clothe American communities. Now, implementing these policies could cost them their jobs.
A U.S. vaccine mandate for all workers at companies that employ 100 people or more has been suspended pending multiple legal challenges.