The federal government says unaffiliated Canadian truck drivers will not be exempted from the new federal vaccine mandate for truck drivers that takes effect later this week.
In a joint statement, Canada’s Ministers of Transport, Health and Public Safety said Canada’s initial policy required truckers arriving in Canada to be fully vaccinated or face PCR testing and quarantine requirements.
Despite the Canada Border Services Agency telling reporters on Wednesday that Canadian truck drivers arriving at the border would remain “exempt” from any testing or quarantine requirements, the government now says information provided by a spokesperson was inaccurate.
As things stand, and as it was before this week’s confusion, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers will have to “meet requirements for pre-entry, arrival and day eight tests, as well as quarantine requirements,” Because they cannot be denied entry. in Canada.
Non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated non-Canadian truck drivers will be turned away if they are unable to show proof of vaccination or a valid medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines.
“On November 19, 2021, we announced that as of January 15, 2022, certain categories of travelers who are currently exempted from entry requirements will be allowed to enter the country only if they have received approved vaccines for entry. have been fully vaccinated with one of the in Canada. These groups include several essential service providers including truck drivers,” the ministers said in the statement.
With just days left for the vaccination requirement for truck drivers to go into effect, it is the second time federal officials have appeared to reverse the rules in the past 24 hours, though the government said in a statement that its status ” hasn’t changed.”
“The information shared yesterday was provided in error. Our team is in contact with industry representatives to ensure they have accurate information.”
To qualify as a fully vaccinated foreign national, non-Canadian truck drivers must complete their authorized vaccine series at least 14 days prior to entering the country and submit the required information via the ArriveCAN app. Have to do
Fielding earlier questions about the state of the policy, the federal government declined to reverse its decision, saying that as the United States prepares to implement its own vaccine mandate for essential workers at the border, Starting January 22, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers are expected to face sanctions after the reciprocal US policy goes into effect.
While truckers applauded what appeared to be a backlash from the government on the mandate, organizations that spoke to CTV News before the latest statement said the main issue is the reciprocal Canada-US sanctions on unaffiliated foreign national drivers.
Cross-border trucking organizations have been ringing alarm bells over the policy for weeks, saying it would require drivers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, sidelining thousands of drivers, exacerbating truck shortages, and increasing supply chains. But serious tension will arise.
“Over the next seven to nine days we really have what we need for both Ottawa and Washington to agree to address their foreign national requirements,” Stephen Laskowski, head of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said Thursday morning on CTV news channel. His organization is in favor of 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 collegial manner on both sides of the border, let’s understand that the supply chain is in a critical state, and Let us choose a date to implement such measures when the supply chain is in a much stronger position than today,” he said.
Responding to the government’s decision not to allow exemptions for unvaccinated truck drivers, Conservative transport critic Melissa Lantsman took a crack at the file’s handling.
“We now have a reversal, resulting in uncertainty for many in the industry and an industry that has been operating round the clock since the start of the pandemic,” she said.
Don Davis, the NDP’s health critic, said the liberals’ handling of it had caused much confusion in the industry and questioned why it took them months to implement the policy.
“Of course, truck drivers going to and back into the United States should be vaccinated. We’re getting American truckers to do that, we should apply the exact same rules to Canadians or else we should take economics away from public health. Keeping up,” Davis said.
During the pandemic, the government has treated truck drivers as an essential service and consequently exempted these drivers from the COVID-19 limit restrictions. Defending this new mandate amid questions over supply chain concerns, the federal government has repeatedly insisted it is working to ensure that goods flow while protecting the health and safety of Canadians. are.
“We understand that we are trying to influence public health, and we are all in favor of it, but we have to understand that truck drivers deliver medical gases to hospitals, the vaccines we need, our medicines, our food, our distribute fuel. , And we already have a fragmented supply chain and if we damage it, the supplies we need for our health and safety, we’re going to see a shortage,” said Mike Million, president of the Canadian Private Motor Truck Council. said, in an interview on CTV news channel earlier on Thursday.
According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) Association, the trucking industry transfers about 80 percent of the annual $648 billion in Canada-US trade. The CME sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week, calling for Canadian companies to rely on these supplies to “avoid a crisis at the border” and to postpone “disastrous consequences”.
Warning of the potential cost implications for Canadian businesses and consumers, how much of Canada’s agri-food imports arrive in Canada by truck, Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory at Dalhousie University, said in a statement that the mandate was “public first”. Will happen. Health measures that may have disrupted trade between Canada and the United States since the start of the pandemic. ,
With files from CTV News ‘Mackenzie Grey’