Canada says just as many trucks are entering from the US despite the vaccine mandate for truckers that triggered protests

·3 min read
Truck drivers and supporters protest against vaccine mandates in the trucking industry in Ottawa, Canada on January 31, 2022.
Canadian truckers protest against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 measures in Ottawa, Canada on January 31, 2022.Kadri Mohamed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Canada's vaccine mandate for truckers hasn't had the disastrous impact some critics expected.

  • The number of the trucks entering the country from the US hasn't fallen, a Canadian government official said.

  • Thousands of Canadians have protested the policy as part of a "Freedom Convoy" in Ottawa.

American and Canadian truckers, Elon Musk, and even Donald Trump have lashed out at Canada's vaccine mandate for truck drivers entering the country.

But for those who said it would lead to driver shortages and further disrupt supply chains, so far it appears the policy hasn't had the disastrous impact they expected.

Two weeks after the mandate was introduced, the number of trucks entering the country from the US was broadly in line with normal levels, a Canadian government official said Monday.

"So far there is no sign whatsoever that the mandate has had an impact on the volume of trucks crossing the borders," Omar Alghabra, the country's transport minister, said at a press conference, per The Wall Street Journal.

"That does not mean that there aren't any supply-chain disruptions; it does not mean that there aren't any challenges out there; and it doesn't mean that people aren't finding enough truckers to carry their load," Alghabra said, per the Journal.

Since January 15, Canada has required US truckers to present proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to cross the border. Unvaccinated Canadian truckers who drive to the US have to quarantine and get tested on their return. The US imposed a similar mandate on January 22.

Alghabra told Canadian broadcaster CBC News later Monday that almost 100,000 trucks had crossed the border during the first week that the mandate was in force, which he said was roughly the average for the time of year.

"I can reassure you and your viewers that I've been monitoring the volume day by day and that so far there have been no measurable impact on the volume of our trucks at the borders," Alghabra told CBC. He said vaccines were a way out of the pandemic and referred to private companies who have voluntarily introduced the mandates for their staff.

Alghabra's comments came after Canadian truckers gathered in Ottawa, Canada for a so-called "Freedom Convoy" protest against the vaccine mandate, which ended up bringing parts of the city to gridlock as huge crowds blocked the roads.

Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa, Canada, on January 29, 2022
Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa, Canada, on January 29, 2022Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images

As well as arguing that the government shouldn't be requiring people to get jabs, some critics of the mandate, including the Canadian Trucking Alliance, had warned that it would exacerbate the industry's labor shortage because it might cause drive some unvaccinated truckers from the profession. This could wreak even more havoc on the supply chain.

The American Truckers Association said that any disruptions caused by the US mandate "will certainly have consequences for the US economy whether it is the auto sector, manufacturing, agricultural products or consumer goods."

George Pitsikoulis, the CEO of Montreal-based Canadawide Fruits, told Bloomberg just two days after the Canadian trucker vaccine mandate was introduced that it was already causing the price of fruit to jump because of a lack of truck drivers able to cross the border.

Almost 90% of Canadian truckers are vaccinated, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in late January.

Are you a trucker with a story? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com.

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