Fears over crippling shortages of truck drivers has the opposition calling on the federal transport minister for clarity on how vaccine mandates will impact Canada’s shipping industry.
A letter this week from Thornhill MP Melissa Lantsman calls on Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to follow suit with the United States and provide exemption to vaccine mandates for truck drivers who operate alone in their trucks — an industry she says has shown little to no workplace transmission of COVID-19.
“The trucking industry moves, by value, close to 70% of the $648 billion dollar Canada-US trade,” Lantsman wrote.
“There are 160,000 truck drivers moving Canada-U.S. trade — about 120,000 of these drivers are Canadian with the remaining 40,000 being American.”
The fear, she said, is that upwards of 20% of these Canadian truckers are likely to be unvaccinated, a number that rises to 40% for American drivers — according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA.)
“Although carriers have been able to modestly raise their driver vaccine rates, many Canadian fleets are still preparing for reductions in their driver pools between 10-20%, with some businesses in certain regions of Canada anticipating well over 20% loss of drivers,” she wrote, explaining these losses would most impact critical freight including food and building materials.
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“We are concerned that this government has no plan to avoid much worse disruption of supply chains and has not taken steps to ensure that food and critical components get where they are
Taking that many trucks off the road would only exacerbate the ongoing supply chain crisis, putting Canada’s economic recovery at risk.