The Saskatchewan trucking industry is joining others who may be confused after the federal government clarified drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border would need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Canada Border Services Agency said a statement appearing to reverse course on the mandate was sent “in error” on Wednesday.
Saskatchewan Trucking Association Executive Director Susan Ewart said there’s a lot of confusion within the industry as a result.
“It definitely makes it hard to communicate, right? What is the correct message?”
Ewart added vaccination rates within the trucking industry have been good, with between 83 and 87 per cent of drivers vaccinated.
“We’ve asked all along that the federal government provide sound policy decisions when they’re looking at these things and that they’re using data and interpreting what’s going on with the driver shortage and supply chain issues,” Ewart said.
Ewart says there are almost 23,000 vacant positions in the industry due to an aging workforce and “huge driver shortage.”
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“As the economy starts to pick up and things start to get going again and we don’t have capacity to be able to move these things, we’re definitely going to create some serious disruption in that supply chain,” Ewart said.
Starting Saturday, all truck drivers crossing into Canada will need to be fully vaccinated to avoid isolation and testing requirements.
“It’s going to be a bit of a mess at the border, I feel like, tomorrow or the next day,” Ewart said.
The trucking industry is predicting a loss of 10 to 15 per cent or around 16,000 drivers when the mandate goes into place, Ewart said.
“If you think about the trade between Canada and the U.S., we know we’re moving about $650 billion worth of exports and for Saskatchewan being a landlocked province, we need trucking to move those exports,” Ewart added.
Global News asked Saskatchewan truckers what they thought about the mandate.
“I wouldn’t waste my time going back and forth, that’s for sure,” Galen Young said.
Others weren’t bothered by the policy.
“Why not? It’s a good thing. Everybody should get (the COVID-19 vaccine),” Robert Shaeffer said.
Mustakali Maradia added that he’s vaccinated and getting ready for his booster shot.
“But some drivers, they don’t like to take the vaccine so they are quitting their jobs,” Maradia added.
— with files from Global News’ Craig Lord