A trucking business is offering $10,000 to vaccinated drivers before deadline

A Canadian logistics company is providing a $10,000 prize to all truck drivers who have gotten their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination by mid-January, despite an ongoing labour shortage.

Fuel Transport, whose payroll counts about 300 employees including roughly 90 truckers says it hopes the incentive will retain employees and boost vaccination rates as well as head off potential delays at the border.

“It wasn’t just a pure play to motivate them to be vaccinated, but the opportunity was there to put it in and it was well-received,” CEO Rob Piccioni said in a phone interview.

“We know we kept you out of our buildings. We know we kind of alienated you. Thank you for sticking through it,” he said, summing up his message to big-riggers.

The federal government announced last month it will close certain loopholes in its vaccination requirement for international travelers, including for essential service providers such as truck drivers. As of Jan. 15, all truckers looking to cross into Canada will need to be fully inoculated.

Non-residents who are not fully vaccinated will be turned away at the border, while residents of the same status will have to show proof of a recent negative test and quarantine for two weeks.

The trucking sector, which suffered from an acute labour shortage even before the pandemic, is feeling the workforce crunch more than ever as demand ramps up amid an e-commerce surge.

Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada, says the rule change next month will have an impact, “we just don’t know how severe.”

Fuel Transport, which ships products ranging from pharmaceuticals to pulp and paper across North America, said its $10,000 bonus will be paid out over 12 months.

If all 90-odd drivers become vaccinated, the cost will be about $900,000 over the coming year.

Roughly 85 per cent of the Montreal-based company’s drivers are already vaccinated, the CEO said.