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“Tell Trudeau Truckers are more important than basketball players” Nicholls writes to Doug Ford as January 15 border deadline looms

There are dozens of trucking companies located in Chatham-Kent-Leamington, says MPP Rick Nicholls. Photo: supplied

Truck drivers are more important than basketball players, Rick Nicholls told Doug Ford in a letter sent January 11th.

“Please pick up the phone and call Justin Trudeau. Please tell him that truck drivers are more important than basketball and hockey players. Please ask him not to eliminate the essential workers exemption for truck drivers,” Nicholls wrote. He was referring to the January 15th deadline for elimination of the essential workers’ exemption for truckers crossing the US border.

Rick Nicholls
Photo: Ontario Legislature

“I notice that in the “Readout” of the Premiers’ call with Prime Minister Trudeau and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc yesterday, the elimination of the essential workers exemption for truckers was not mentioned.”

Nicholls would like to see Canada maintain the exemption for truckers, as industry sources indicate approximately 20 per cent of drivers may be taken out of the workforce if the exemption is eliminated. Canada does have a mechanism to provide National Interest Exemptions (NIEs) which are used to permit professional athletes like hockey and basketball players into across the border; Nicholls believes the trucking industry should also be provided a National Interest Exemption.

“Premier, you must agree that truck drivers transporting food, medicines, auto parts and building materials are at least as important as hockey players and basketball players. Residents and businesses in my riding agree with this; I am sure the vast majority of Ontarians believe this, too.

“Please pick up the phone and call Justin Trudeau. Please tell him that truck drivers are more important than basketball and hockey players. Please ask him not to eliminate the essential workers exemption for truck drivers.”

Read the full text of Rick Nicolls letter to Doug Ford here

Here is the full text of MPP Rick Nicholls’ letter to Premier Doug Ford:

Date: January 11, 2022

Dear Premier Ford,

I am writing you today to highlight the extremely urgent situation looming at Canada’s borders which requires your immediate attention and action.

On January 15th, 2022, Canada is scheduled to eliminate the exemption which has permitted transport truck drivers to cross the border as essential workers for the past two years.

I noticed in the “Readout” of the all-Premiers’ call with Prime Minister Trudeau and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc yesterday, the elimination of the essential workers exemption for truckers was not mentioned.

Stopping these trucks at the border – trucks hauling all kinds of food including fruits and vegetables, auto parts and building supplies, and so much more – will devastate Ontario’s economy. It will further damage the small businesses which have borne the brunt of the COVID lockdown, and deprive Ontario families of the goods they need to stay safe and healthy.

Also Premier, the percentage of drivers affected by eliminating this exemption could be 20 per cent or more, according to industry estimates.

My riding of Chatham-Kent-Leamington is home to dozens of trucking firms which provide invaluable service to Ontario, ensuring a smooth flow of goods back and forth across the Canada/US borders including the Ambassador Bridge and Tunnel in Windsor and the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia. If the exemption on January 15th is eliminated, the government will put the delivery of these goods, and the companies and consumers across of Ontario at risk.

This dire situation will play out at every border crossing in our province, and across the country.

For these important reasons, I believe Premier, you have an indisputable obligation to be in direct contact with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to request that the exemption for truck drivers crossing the border not be removed on January 15th.

As I am sure you are aware, the Canadian government can, and does, offer “National Interest Exemptions” (NIEs) in specific circumstances. NIEs were extended to professional athletes including hockey and basketball players so that they were able to play games in Canada.

Premier, you must agree that truck drivers transporting food, medicines, auto parts and building materials are at least as important as hockey players and basketball players. Residents and businesses in my riding agree with this; I am sure the vast majority of Ontarians believe this, too.

Please pick up the phone and call Justin Trudeau. Please tell him that truck drivers are more important than basketball and hockey players. Please ask him not to eliminate the essential workers exemption for truck drivers.

If you would like to discuss this matter further or have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call.

Sincerely,

Rick Nicholls, MPP

Chatham-Kent-Leamington

On January 5th, federal Transport Critic Melissa Lantsman wrote Minister Omar Alghabra asking him to share Canada’s plan for the January 15th elimination of the exemption.

“There is about to be a ton of truckers taken off the road, and all we want is the government to give us some indication what they are planning for this. Because for too long, Canadians have done everything right; I think it’s time that the pep talk stops, and it’s time that we stop started paying attention to the critical parts of our economy and critical industries, like trucking,” Lantsman told Road Warrior News.

At time of posting, neither Ford nor Alghabra have offered responses.

On its website, the Public Health Agency of Canada has posted:

“The Government of Canada is also announcing that as of January 15, 2022, certain groups of travellers, who are currently exempt from entry requirements, will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada. These groups include:

  • individuals travelling to reunite with family (unvaccinated children under 18 years of age will retain exemption if travelling to reunite with an immediate or extended family member who is a Canadian, permanent resident, or person registered under the Indian Act);
  • international students who are 18 years old and older; 
  • professional and amateur athletes;
  • individuals with a valid work permit, including temporary foreign workers (outside of those in agriculture and food processing); and
  • essential service providers, including truck drivers.

After January 15, 2022, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will only be allowed to enter Canada if they meet the criteria for limited exceptions, which apply to certain groups such as agricultural and food processing workers, marine crew members, those entering on compassionate grounds, new permanent residents, resettling refugees and some children under the age of 18. Exempt unvaccinated travellers will continue to be subject to testing, quarantine, and other entry requirements. Non-exempt unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will be prohibited entry into Canada.”