As Canada starts the 10-day countdown to January 15th, when previously exempt truck drivers will require proof of full vaccination to cross the border, lobbying and other communications activities are intensifying.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has updated its website to include the point that truck drivers may need to “complete arrival test and quarantine if selected,” a concept that has taken some drivers by complete surprise: “No one has mentioned anything to me about the possibility of quarantine – none of the border guards I speak regularly, and not my employer,” one Alberta trucker told Road Warrior News. “I cannot park my truck and quarantine for two weeks. No way.”
"No one has mentioned anything to me about the possibility of quarantine – none of the border guards I speak regularly, and not my employer. I cannot park my truck and quarantine for two weeks. No way.” --Alberta Trucker
Road Warrior News (RWN) has requested clarification on this point, which was not available at time of posting. Updates will be provided as responses are received.
Conservative Transportation Critic Melissa Lantsman released a letter to Minister Omar Alghabra yesterday, pointing out that enforcement of the vaccine mandate may result in a loss of as much as 20 per cent of the driver workforce.
“We are concerned that this government has no plan to avoid much worse disruption of supply chains and has not taken steps to ensure that food and critical components get where they are needed,” Lantsman wrote.
“Driver loss will disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable businesses first such as building materials, food for retail sale and grocery warehouses…these reductions will have a competitive impact on Canadian manufacturing, cause challenges for animal welfare from livestock carriers and cause serious challenges to the food supply chain.”
In December, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters stated that manufacturers are strong supporters of vaccinating all American and Canadian citizens, including truckers.
“However, a vaccine mandate for truckers, at this time, will sideline one fifth of that workforce, make the trucking labour shortage go from bad to worse, and do severe damage to already struggling supply chains. CME urges the Canadian and US government to hit the pause button before it is too late,” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME.
There are currently limited exceptions to COVID requirements, including a category titled “National Interest Exemptions” which have been used to permit professional athletes into Canada.
“Since the travel restrictions were first imposed in March 2020, the Ministers of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship, Foreign Affairs and Public Safety have had the authority to grant entry and/or quarantine exemptions in the “national interest” (NIE),” Peter Liang Communications Advisor, Communications Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada wrote to Road Warrior News in a January 5th email.
“The Orders-in-Council issued under the Quarantine Act provide authority to the Ministers to determine what constitutes the ‘national interest.’ This is based on the individual mandates of each Minister’s department.
“The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship issued NIEs for purposes such as business visitors supporting critical infrastructure and urgent refugee resettlement cases.
“National Interest Exceptions have also been issued for quarantine exemptions for professional athletes, which are based on the advice of the Minister of Health and require the full support of provincial health authorities and implicated municipalities. Each decision is weighed carefully in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to mitigate the importation or spread of COVID‑19. Professional athletes have been allowed to enter Canada during the pandemic based on the nature of their work in Canada.”