Canada’s trucker vaccine mandate won’t exempt the unvaxxed

The federal government says unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers will not be exempt from the mandate for the new federal truck drivers vaccine that takes effect this weekend.

In a joint statement, Canada’s Transportation, Health and Public Safety ministers said Canada’s initial policy is to require truck drivers coming to Canada to be fully vaccinated, or to face polymerase chain reaction testing and quarantine requirements.

Although the Canada Border Services Agency told reporters on Wednesday that unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers arriving at the border “will remain exempt” from any testing or quarantine requirements, the government now says the information provided by the spokesperson was incorrect.

As it stands, and as was initially the case before this week’s confusion, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers will have to “meet pre-entry, arrival and day eight test requirements, as well as quarantine requirements,” as they cannot be denied entry into Canada.

Non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated Canadian truck drivers will be rejected if they cannot show evidence of vaccination or a valid medical contraindication for COVID-19 vaccines.

“On November 19, 2021, we announced that from January 15, 2022, certain categories of travelers who are currently exempt from entry requirements will only be allowed to enter the country if they have been fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada. These groups include many providers of Essential services, including truck drivers.

With only a few days left before a vaccination requirement for truck drivers takes effect, this is the second time that federal officials have been shown fumbling about what the rules will be in the past 24 hours, despite their statement to the government. She said her position “has not changed”.

“The information shared yesterday was provided in error. Our teams have been in contact with industry representatives to ensure they have the correct information,” the statement read.

In order to qualify as a fully vaccinated foreign national, non-Canadian truck drivers are required to complete their authorized vaccination series at least 14 days prior to entering the country and provide the required information through the ArriveCAN app.

Responding to earlier questions about the state of the policy, the federal government denied it had reversed its decision, saying that as the United States prepares to activate its vaccine mandate for essential workers at the border, starting Jan. 22, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers are expected to face restrictions once The entry into force of the US mutual policy.

While truck drivers applauded what appeared to be the government’s reversal of the mandate, organizations that spoke to CTV News before the latest statement said the main issue remains the reciprocal Canadian-US restrictions on unvaccinated foreign drivers.

Cross-border trucking organizations have been sounding alarm bells about policy for weeks, saying that requiring drivers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 would marginalize thousands of drivers, exacerbate a shortage of truck drivers, and lead to serious pressures on the supply chain.

“What we really have here in the next seven to nine days is the need for Ottawa and Washington to agree to remove their foreign national requirements,” Stephen Laszkowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said on CTV News Thursday morning, noting that his organization supports vaccinations for its drivers.

“It’s not a question of whether this mandate should be implemented, it’s a question of when. So let’s work together in a collective way on both sides of the border, let’s understand that the supply chain is in a fragile state, and let’s pick when to impose such measures when the supply chain is in a stronger state.” than it is today.”

In response to the government’s decision to stand by not allowing exemptions for unvaccinated truck drivers, conservative transportation critic Melissa Lantzmann has criticized their handling of the dossier.

“We now have a reversal in the reversal that has led to greater uncertainty for many in the industry and an industry that has been working around the clock since the start of the pandemic, without interruption,” she said.

Don Davies, the NDP’s health critic, said the Liberals’ handling of this has caused significant confusion in the industry and questioned why it took them months to implement this policy.

Of course truck drivers going to the US and back should be vaccinated. “We’re getting American truck drivers to do that, we have to apply the exact same rules to Canadians or else we’re putting the economy above public health,” Davis said.

Throughout the pandemic, the government has deemed truck drivers an essential service and as a result these drivers have been exempted from COVID-19 border restrictions. In defending this new mandate amid questions about supply chain concerns, the federal government has repeatedly emphasized that it is working to ensure the continued flow of goods while protecting the health and safety of Canadians first and foremost.

“We understand that we are trying to affect public health, and we are all in favor of that, but we have to understand that truck drivers are taking medical gases to hospitals, the vaccines we need, our medicine, our food, our fuel,” said Mike Milian, president of the Canadian Council on Car Trucks. Already a fractured supply chain, and if we damage that, we will see a shortage of supplies that we need for our health and safety,” he told CTV News earlier on Thursday.

According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association (CME), the trucking industry moves nearly 80 percent of the $648 billion annually in trade between Canada and the United States. CME sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week, requesting a delay in the mandate to “avoid a crisis at the border”, and “disastrous consequences” for Canadian businesses that depend on these supplies.

Warning of the potential cost implications for Canadian businesses and consumers Given how much of Canada’s imports of agri-food comes into Canada by truck, Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agro-Food Analytics Laboratory at Dalhousie University, said the mandate would be “the first public health measure that could disrupt trade.” between Canada and the United States since the beginning of the epidemic.”

Files from Mackenzie Gray from CTV News


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