Canadian officials drop vaccine mandate for truckers

by Vianca Rodriguez

In a sudden twist of events, the Canada Border Services Agency announced on Wednesday that vaccination requirements would be eliminated solely for Canadian truckers who deliver goods and supplies.

Unvaccinated Canadian drivers will be exempt from test, quarantine, and vaccination requirements entirely. This rule does not apply to American truckers attempting to cross the Canadian borders to ship and deliver goods; they must still show proof of vaccination.

However, confusion remains between the Canadian government agency and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who appears dead set on maintaining mandatory vaccines.

If the mandate reversal were to push forward, it comes merely three days before the vaccination requirement was set to take effect in the country, and after significant pressure from trade lobbyists and trucking associations. Such associations warned of worsening worker shortages that would ultimately cause further strain on the supply chain, therefore disrupting the day-to-day of the general welfare of citizens.

Similar to the United States, Canada has been experiencing unprecedented levels of inflation, supply chain and driver shortages, as well as trade disruptions since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This unevenness in terms of vaccine requirements will inevitably impact the supply chain regardless, because many American truck drivers remain unvaccinated as well, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the federal government’s vaccine-or-test mandate on private businesses.

Throughout the pandemic, truck drivers were allowed to freely come and go throughout the border as their services were deemed essential. It is difficult to determine why officials are pushing truckers to get vaccinated two years into the pandemic.

In fact, several Senate Republicans sent Joe Biden a letter last month expressing their concerns about vaccine mandates, and how it would impact an industry that hauls more than $846 million worth of goods across the U.S.-Canada border.

“We fear that the imposition of vaccination mandates as a requirement to cross the land border will exacerbate the existing challenges facing our freight networks and supply chain…,” the senators said. “Our nation’s truck drivers worked diligently during the pandemic to facilitate critical cross-border freight movements that helped to feed and clothe American communities. Now, implementing these policies could cost them their jobs.”

Nearly two-thirds of $21 billion-worth of agricultural products that are imported into Canada are going to experience difficulties making it inside Canada’s borders, according to Dr. Sylvain Charlesbois, a Canadian food distribution researcher and professor from Dalhousie University.

“Food inflation is already a challenge in Canada, and the vaccine mandate affecting truckers could make things worse, especially for families with fewer means,” Charlesbois said. “We need to be careful with vaccine mandates that could impact the effectiveness of our food supply chain. Some measures are worth second-guessing.”

Reuters originally reported that Canada’s strict requirements in response to the pandemic led the country to experience inflationary rates not seen in more than 18 years. Bank of Canada, comparable to the U.S. Federal Reserve, is now looking to raise interest rates within the coming months to try to offset rising inflation.

The supply chain crisis had only been exasperated due to unnerving rates of layoffs and other coercive measures to oblige the unvaccinated to get inoculated one way or another.

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