A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into Canada from the United States is now in effect, raising worries about future disruptions to the supply chain.
Canadian truckers must be vaccinated if they want to avoid quarantine and a pre-arrival molecular test, while unvaccinated American big-riggers will be turned back at the border.
Alberta’s transportation minister said the province will be closely monitoring the effects of the new vaccine mandate.
“Alberta’s transportation network is a vital part of our economy and it is what connects our communities. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the movement of goods, services and people supported and boosted Alberta’s economy,” Rajan Sawhney said in a news release Saturday.
“According to the Alberta Motor Transport Association, 52 per cent of Alberta’s gross domestic product is delivered on the back of a truck,” Sawhney said.
“The pandemic and recent flooding in British Columbia have shown us that the supply chain is both critical and fragile, and we are doing everything we can to keep our economy functioning and growing through these difficult times.”
Sawhney said the province has worked with industry stakeholders throughout the pandemic and will continue to advocate for the interests of the transportation workforce, network and province.
Trucking industry groups have accused the Canadian government of sparking confusion after the Canada Border Services Agency suggested earlier this week that Ottawa was backtracking on the rules, only to have that information refuted the next day.
The president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance said the application of the mandate could potentially cause some slowdowns at the border in the coming days if unvaccinated truckers have to turn their big rigs around.
But Stephen Lakowski says the bigger concern is over the impact on the supply chain caused by driver shortages.
The news comes as provinces continue to grapple with rising hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
— With a file from Canadian Press