P.E.I.’s mandatory testing leaves trucking industry fearful of delays

‘This is going to push people away from the industry’

The organization representing commercial truck drivers on P.E.I. is calling on the government to exempt truckers from mandatory testing at the bridge. 

Everyone over the age of eight, regardless of vaccination status needs to be tested upon entry into P.E.I. Those under eight will be given a self-administered test to take at home.  

Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA), says requiring all commercial drivers to be tested upon entering P.E.I. will lead to delays.

Jean-Marc Picard says the need for testing adds more pressure to an industry already pushed to its limits by a labour shortage. (Skype)

“All of a sudden we get another layer of rules which is extremely, I think, unnecessary and confusing,” Picard said. 

“We are essentially in our trucks 90 per cent of the time, and we still have to go through the tests and isolate … We were exempt before vaccines were there. Now we’re not exempt and we’re vaccinated.”

Delays add up

The APTA said even if testing adds just an extra hour to a trip it’s significant, and could delay deliveries or cut into the break time drivers need. 

The group said truckers are careful, many are fully vaccinated and they are essential workers — which is why Picard said they should be exempt from testing. 

Island trucker Alexander Lifman holds up testing cards from prior trips back to P.E.I. (Skype)

“There’s no reason why other provinces give full exemption and P.E.I. can’t. It’s the same job, we do the same thing … we definitely need to waive everything for truck drivers and let the supply chain flow.” 

On the other hand, long-haul truckers are used to being tested. Alexander Lifman dropped his load of P.E.I potatoes off in Maryland last week. 

He sees the test as having a minimal effect on him — but he hopes delays due to testing won’t be too bad. 

“People who travel outside the province, well, they should get tested … it’s a good thing to know your status,” Lifman said. 

With drivers under pressure to meet deadlines for deliveries, APTA said it can be stressful travelling, especially when COVID-19 cases are rising.

With more testing, Picard said it could add even more stress to the job and that “this is going to push people away from the industry.”