Vaccination policy will add to supply chain issues: Truckers

A vaccination policy for cross-border travellers will impact the supply chain, as a chunk of the trucking workforce will exit the industry, warned the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

The U.S. and Canada have said all cross-border travellers, including truck drivers, must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination starting in January.

The U.S. government first proposed a mandate requiring all Canadian cross-border truck drivers to be vaccinated by January 2022. Canada followed by announcing the same policy to come into effect on Jan. 15.

“The good news is that many trucking companies from across Canada have double vaccination rates in the 85-90% range — well above the provincial averages,” the alliance said in a statement on its website. “However, there are a significant number of carriers moving Canada-U.S. trade that have lower vaccination rates, which are more reflective of the regional rates where their companies are located and their drivers are recruited.”

The group “conservatively” estimated that one-in-five Canadian truck drivers crossing the border and 40 percent from the U.S. “would almost immediately exit the Canada-U.S. trade system should the vaccination mandate take effect in January 2022.”

The group is asking for more time to have such measures implemented. Given that truckers spend much time on the road, ensuring full vaccination prior to the new year would be difficult.

Not to mention the fact that the industry is already facing a driver shortage. Losing 20,000 Canadian truckers would exacerbate the issues already being seen in the supply chain.

“CTA is urging governments for a date-driven, practical implementation timeline that does not further disrupt a constrained supply chain and increase processing times of trucks at the border while also maintaining the need to keep Canadians and Americans safe,” the alliance said.