Canada drops COVID vaccine mandate for Canadian truckers

But U.S. truckers crossing border still required to be fully vaccinated

Canada drops COVID vaccine mandate for Canadian truckers

Canada will no longer be mandating Canadian truckers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can cross in from the United States, according to reports.

These workers will not have to quarantine if they are unvaccinated or have received only one dose of the vaccine, according to a report from The Canadian Press. The decision was reported days before the COVID-19 vaccination mandate was set to take effect on Jan. 15.

The decision was taken to ensure smooth supply chains, according to Reuters, citing a source from the Canadian government.

Truckers have warned that the vaccination policy will put additional strain on supply chains amid the latest COVID-19 surge and the shortage of workers.

"There are many of our members who have already said they will not be dispatching unvaccinated drivers across the border," said Stephen Laskowski, head of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, according to a report from CTV News.

Transport companies never opposed the vaccine mandate; "it's the timing of it," said Laskowski, citing supply-chain pressure points ranging from clogged ports to sick workers and inflation.

In mid-November 2021, the federal government announced that truck drivers crossing into Canada would need to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 15.

Had this plan pushed through, about 10 per cent of the 120,000 Canadian big-riggers who go through that route may not be able to work because they have not received the jabs, said Laskowski.

In May 2021, Saskatchewan and North Dakota signed a Memorandum of Understanding to vaccinate essential workers who are transporting goods across the United States and Canadian border.

Two months later, the North Dakota Department of Health has extended the Drayton pop-up vaccination clinic to accommodate Canadian traffic under the Essential Worker Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative.

“Truck drivers have been dealing with Covid safety since before vaccines were bacteria in a petri dish,” said Mike McCarron, president, Rite Route Supply Chain Solutions, about the previously-announced vaccination policy in a LinkedIn post. “They never stopped working. Protecting themselves and the scant few people they come across on the road is old news to these professionals. Not sure how this is going change anything but further disrupt a very fragile supply chain.”

Meanwhile, truckers from the United States crossing the border to Canada will still need to be vaccinated by the said date or they will not be allowed to cross.