'You're getting into some very critical areas of disruption of service,' says trucking association
The trucking industry says cross border supplies will slow down even more if a vaccine mandate for truckers goes through.
As of January 15, new federal rules mandate that truck drivers returning from the U.S would have to quarantine if they're not vaccinated.
A similar mandate is scheduled for January 22 for drivers heading into the U.S.
Mike Millian, the president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada in Milton, Ont., says the supply chain slow downs being experienced now will only get worse.
"While we're trying to protect the public's health and safety by mandating a vaccine, we could be harming the public's health and safety if we're mandating 20 per cent of the workforce to be gone when we already have a shortage of that workforce," Millian said.
"They're the ones that deliver food, fuel, vaccines, medical gases, blood, all the stuff that keeps our healthcare system going. Food in our stomach and heat in our homes. We're going to create a bigger public health risk if we're not careful here."
The trucking industry fears the vaccine will lead to an estimated 12,000 and 22,000 workers leaving the job when the mandate is enforced.
Shelley Walker of Cambridge is president of the Women's Trucking Federation of Canada.
She said in a coast-to-coast survey of the Women's Trucking Federation of Canada where 181 responded, 56 per cent said they will not get vaccinated to meet this mandate.
"For some of them, it's been too much miscommunication. For some, [they say], 'We've been doing this for over two years, I haven't gotten COVID. I'm in a truck all by myself.' And for others, it's a case of religious beliefs," Walker said.
Calls to delay mandate
Trucking organizations like the Canadian Trucking Alliance have asked the governments on both sides of the border to keep the dialogue open ahead of the first vaccine date.
Stephen Laskowski is president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. He says they've asked the governments of Canada and the U.S to work with industries on both sides of the border and members of the supply chain that rely on the trucking industry.
"Speak directly with those customers of the trucking industry throughout the supply chain to understand their current problems in managing their supply chains related to not only driver shortages, but there are other issues they are facing," Laskowski said.
He said they also need to talk about "how removing a certain percentage of drivers from the supply chain as a result of this mandate would make a bad situation in the supply chain even worse."
Millian says at best, they're hoping to delay the mandate and offer testing options for the truckers.
"Give us the option to get them tested a couple of times if the driver doesn't want to get vaccinated," Millian said.
"At least in some way, we are still doing what they wish, which is, trying to ensure we're not getting infected and spreading it around. But at the same time, we're not moving these workers from the workforce which both our economies desperately need."