Canada’s new vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers kicks in Saturday

Canada's trucking industry says unvaccinated drivers could quit, when a vaccine mandate for those crossing the border comes into effect Saturday. One food prof says this couldn't come at a worse time for Canadian grocery bills.

A new policy mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all truckers crossing the border into Canada takes effect Saturday.

Starting Jan. 15, an American trucker who isn’t vaccinated would be turned away at the border, while unvaccinated Canadian truckers would be allowed to cross but have to quarantine for 14 days.

The U.S. will also require commercial truck drivers be vaccinated. This enforcement is set to begin a few days after Canada on Jan. 22.

A photo of the ArriveCan app for those crossing into Canada

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has supplied instructions to its members on how to use the ArriveCan app which must be used for drivers to enter their vaccination status prior to Jan. 15.


The other change is that truckers must now submit their vaccination information into the ArriveCan app prior to entry. The latest version of the app now allows for a saved traveller profile, which will cut down time as the traveller won’t need to fill out their details each time.Prior to Jan. 15, drivers were exempt from rules which non-essential travellers were subjected to, and were able to show a reusable receipt to the border guards, but that will no longer be accepted.

Drivers will not be required to show a negative COVID-19 test, however, which is required for the majority of non-essential travellers regardless of the duration of their trip. The only exemption remains for those who continue to be affected by the B.C. floods.

Despite dire warnings this will challenge the already strained supply chains, and lead to further inflation spikes, the Trudeau government says it isn’t planning on making any changes to the new rules.

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The new policy was announced in November and has come with a lot of criticism from the industry. The Federal Transport Minister has defended the move.

“With the increased number of cases as a result of the Omicron variant, we are seeing across the country and around the world, an impact on essential sectors that can result in labour shortages, putting a strain on sectors like transportation. We also know that vaccination is the best way to fight this pandemic, to protect the health and safety of workers, and to keep our economy moving,” the ministry said in a statement to CityNews.

Government sources told Reuters they don’t believe this will cause a significant disruption on supply chains, and impacts roughly five per cent of the workforce.

But, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says there is a larger population of unvaccinated drivers than the government sources predict, and the move is going to have a dire impact on the industry, and consumers as a result.

“Industry vaccination rates remain reflective of the Canadian national average as well as the regional provincial averages of 83-87 per cent. The industry is expecting a loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) cross-border commercial drivers if the mandate takes effect this month, with higher or lower losses in capacity in certain regions depending on the location of companies,” the CTA wrote in an online statement.

$650-billion in goods cross the border annually and more than two-thirds of that is transported on our roads.

Those in B.C. know firsthand the importance of commercial vehicles after the November floods left the highways impassable and blocked truckers from accessing grocery stores, gas stations, and even recycling plants.

A sign at a grocery store details B.C.'s milk shortage impacts on consumers

A sign at a Langley, B.C. Save On reads that customers are limited to 4Ls of milk due to a shortage. Nov. 22, 2021. (CityNews)

The industry warns this vaccine mandate could lead to further disruptions and higher prices at grocery stores across the country.

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“Certain sectors and regions of the Canadian economy will be disproportionately disrupted once these mandates are in effect.”

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