WARMINGTON: Supply-chain crisis could lead to empty shelves

While shoppers may have noticed some empty shelves in local grocery stores, truckers are warning you haven’t seen anything yet.

Thanks to mandatory vaccine passport rules being forced on cross-border truckers on Jan. 15, hundreds of transport vehicles will not be picking up or delivering supplies each day.

“With 20% of drivers not vaccinated, you could see 6,000 trucks a day in Canada not coming across, which means about 250 million pounds of food, parts, supplies and goods,” said Jonker. “Those are devastating numbers.”

The next thing people may see are increased costs.

“The prices will escalate,” cautioned Jim Culp, of J.E. Culp Transport.

This potential reality stems from governments zealously deciding that even though vaccinated people with two and three doses are still contracting COVID-19, truckers must comply with demands to get the shot.

“It’s not necessary,” said Culp. “Truckers primarily work alone and things are working fine.”

“Truckers are an independent sort,” added Jonker. “They do this because they like to work for themselves and answer to themselves.”

But governments seem to be heading toward a more punitive approach. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent harsh words about unvaccinated people are one example. On Tuesday, Quebec Premier Francois Legaul t warned the unvaccinated in his province will have to pay a penalty.

Time will tell how these draconian measures play out, but when it comes to delivery of goods, there could be serious problems.

“It will just take a few days and people will start to notice,” cautioned Jonker.

It will be interesting to see if there is a run on items like toilet paper again.

In a bid to stop this problem, Conservative MP Dean Allison wrote Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, warning “the vaccine mandate will exacerbate driver shortages and drive up the price of goods imported from the United States” and “the Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates that 16,000 cross-border drivers will be forced off the roads.”

Alghabra said in a statement, “the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the trucking industry, and our government recognizes the impact it is having on those working in the commercial vehicle and logistics sectors.”

The statement added, “with the increased number of cases as a result of the Omicron variant, we are seeing across the country and around the world an impact on essential sectors that can result in labour shortages, putting a strain on sectors like transportation. We also know that vaccination is the best way to fight this pandemic, to protect the health and safety of workers, and to keep our economy moving.”

It’s political speak that doesn’t address the problem.

“The upcoming shortage is extremely alarming considering that more than two-thirds of the $650-bilion in goods traded annually with our southern neighbour are transported on roads,” warned Allison.

He called on the federal government to “provide a plan to reasonably accommodate cross-border truck drivers by putting in place a program for regular testing.”

That would park the nonsensical vaccine mandate and keep Canadians supplied. Or they can push forward with the dystopian measures, and see businesses forced to their knees by the same leaders who blame, fire, and perhaps soon tax the unvaccinated, to distract attention from their own failures.

So, in addition to not having enough firefighters, paramedics, cops, transit drivers, and nurses, brace yourself for empty shelves.