BCTA Calling For Delayed COVID Vaccine Mandate at Canada-US Border For Commercial Drivers

Posted on Mon, 2021-11-29 15:27
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November 29, 2021

On November 19, the Government of Canada announced that it will require American and Canadian truck drivers to be double vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus by January 15 when crossing into Canada. This announcement comes weeks after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that beginning in January 2022 all inbound foreign national travelers crossing US land port of entries for essential or non-essential reasons must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  The specific date has not yet been confirmed by CBP.

The BC Trucking Association (BCTA), along with the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) strongly supports the use of vaccines, however will be calling on Canadian and American authorities for additional time before the vaccine mandate comes into effect for cross-border truck drivers. There is concern that the North American supply chain will not withstand a hurried implementation of the mandate as the current mid-January deadline does not give unvaccinated commercial drivers sufficient time to re-evaluate their status and become fully vaccinated. CTA estimates that 10-20% of Canadian truck drivers crossing the border (12,000-22,000) and 40% of American truck drivers (16,000) travelling into Canada would exit the Canada-US trade system if the vaccination mandate takes effect in January 2022.  As of November 2021, over 18,000 job vacancies for truck drivers in Canada remains unfilled. With an already pressing driver shortage issue, coupled with the fact that the Canadian trucking industry is highly strained with the current level of demand, appropriate mandate timelines will need to be considered in order to avoid immense disruptions to the transport of north-south trade.

“Causing further challenges for the supply chain at this time would be highly inadvisable, especially given our current situation in British Columbia” says Dave Earle, BCTA President and CEO. “BCTA strongly supports the vaccine mandate, however, more time is needed to mitigate delays and shortages to cross-border goods that we all depend on, such as groceries, clothing, and building supplies - nothing has shown us how fragile our supply chain is than during the early days of COVID or more recently, with the flooding in BC.   

“We’ll continue to strongly encourage the federal government to take our recommendations into account, which not only support the economy but also support COVID-19 vaccine uptake among commercial drivers.”

Currently, truck drivers are classified as essential workers and are not included in a vaccine mandate. Approximately $454 billion in trade between Canada and the US moves by truck. CTA reports that there are 120,000 Canadians who operate cross border and 40,000 US licensed drivers moving north-south trade.

The Government of Canada has stated the use of ArriveCAN will be used to verify vaccination status of truck drivers arriving into Canada. CTA will be working with the federal government to update its training package, as well as confirming whether there are any updates to the one-time submission of ArriveCAN data. CTA and BCTA will provide updates to members in the coming days.

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