The U.S. and Canada have said all cross-border travelers, including truck drivers, must provide...

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

Photo: Jim Park

Canada announced that it will require truck drivers — both Americans and Canadians — to be double vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus by Jan. 15 when crossing into Canada. The announcement comes weeks after the Biden Administration proposed a mandate requiring all Canadian cross-border truck drivers to be vaccinated by January 2022.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance is calling on both Canadian and American authorities to give the industry more time to prepared. CTA has warned a hasty implementation could spell even more trouble for the North American supply chain that is already facing challenges associated with the driver shortage. The January deadline gives little time for long-haul drivers to arrange for both shots, given the time they spend away from home, the association said.

Up to this point, truck drivers, defined as essential workers, have been permitted to cross the border for work while it has been closed to non-essential traffic.

CTA already had expressed concern last month when the U.S. announced it would require all inbound foreign nationals, essential or not, to prove they’re double-vaccinated beginning in January. It had fully expected the Canadian government to respond in kind.

According to CTA, about 70% of the $648 billion in trade between the two countries moves by truck. There are 120,000 Canadians who operate cross border and 40,000 U.S.-licensed drivers moving north-south trade.  

“We are extremely concerned there is a perfect storm brewing,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “In light of worldwide supply chain disruptions and delays, it’s unclear how the supply chain and the trucking industry, in particular, can withstand further turmoil and maintain the service levels required to deliver critical products Canadians and Americans need.”  

CTA said it conservatively estimates that 10-20% of Canadian truck drivers crossing the border (12,000-22,000), and 40% of U.S. truck drivers (16,000) travelling into Canada will exit the cross-border business if the vaccine requirement goes into effect as scheduled.

“It is entirely unclear how the industry and supply chain can compensate for thousands of drivers abruptly exiting the system overnight,” said Laskowski. “Make no mistake, if this mandate moves forward as planned, it would bring significant consequences for the cross-border economy, which will be felt by the Canadian and American public."

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