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Similar to the tizzy in Maharashtra, COVID-19 mandate for truckers at US-Canada border leave stakeholders fretting

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Logistics Insider recently reported about how COVID-19 mandate for entry into Maharashtra had left the domestic trucking association alarmed about the disruptions that would be cause to the already fragile supply chain around the country. Almost 12,000km away, a similar situation was seen yesterday at the US-Canada border.

The Trudeau Government had issued a COVID-19 mandate for all truckers entering Canada, which is to come in force starting this Saturday and similar rules coming on 22nd January in the US. According to the mandate issued, Canada will require unvaccinated Canadian drivers to show a negative, molecular COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to reaching the border before they are allowed entry. Those drivers will also have to quarantine for a 14-day period, which industry groups say will hurt fleets that are already short-staffed. The US has said Canadian truck drivers without two shots of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine would be denied entry. Trucking groups and other stakeholders have expressed their concern that the absence of bilateral solution for the cross border movement of trucks can wreak havoc on the supply chain, causing price increases and a shortage of essential goods (like food or medicine).

After a severe backlash from the industry and the opposing party, Justin Trudeau – the Canadian Prime Minister – led government has now modified the rules to be implemented starting Saturday. Now Canada will allow unvaccinated Canadian truckers to enter the country and they will be exempted from pre-arrival, arrival, post-arrival and quarantine requirements. However, truckers from the United States and other foreign countries will still need to be vaccinated or they will be turned back at the border from Jan 15. A Canadian government source said the decision was taken to ensure smooth supply chains.

Both Canada and US have maintained uninterrupted cross-border traded since the start of the pandemic with the view that it was important to keep the supply chains interruption free. According to sources, goods worth USD 511 billion are traded between US and Canada per annum, and two-thirds of this trade is carried by trucks, making the trucking industry extremely vital to both the countries.

The American Trucking Associations, an industry group, is urging leaders in Ottawa and Washington to reconsider the cross-border mandates “so we can avoid any further economic disruptions,” said Bob Costello, the group’s chief economist and senior vice president of international trade policy and cross-border operations. He added, “We believe these mandates will only serve to push drivers out of the industry or away from these routes, further straining the supply chain between the U.S. and our biggest trading partner.”

Stakeholders from the supply chain industry in both the countries are worried that the mandates to be implemented shortly were going to further intensify freight bottlenecks as hiring and retaining truck drivers has already been a matter of concern for Canada as well as US. “If you introduce this vaccine mandate, that piece of the problem gets bigger,” Mr. Laskowski said. The shortage of truckers has already caused the costs of transporting cargo from California to Canada to double during the pandemic, especially for goods that are fragile and volatile.

Without adequate trucking services, manufacturers would be unable to maintain their current supply chains and production will stop or slow across the country,”

Dennis Darby, president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

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