Canada’s federal government is reversing course and will not impose testing and quarantine requirements for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Canadian truck drivers at the international border when a new vaccine mandate takes effect on Jan. 15.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated U.S. truck drivers will still be turned away.
“We can now tell you that as of Jan. 15, truck drivers with a right of entry [Canadian citizens, permanent residents and persons registered under the Indian Act] who are unvaccinated, or partially vaccinated Canadian truck drivers arriving at the border, will remain exempt from pre-arrival, arrival and post-arrival testing and quarantine requirements,” a Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson told sister publication trucknews.com on Wednesday night.
“Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign national, including American, truck drivers will be prohibited entry into Canada.”
The foreign national truck drivers will be admitted to Canada only if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada, and if they they can prove a “contraindication” to a Covid-19 vaccine dosage regimen.
The new position emerged Wednesday evening, only hours after representatives of the Canada Border Services Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, and Transport Canada informed trucking associations about plans that would have applied stricter measures.
Senior fleet executives say they were surprised by the changing position.
“Pleasantly surprised,” said Wendell Erb, president and CEO of Erb Group of Companies.
“If this is in fact true, then it is good to see that our message has been heard,” added Rob Penner, CEO of Bison Transport.
“While we are glad to hear the government has listened and will not be requiring Canadian drivers to quarantine effective Saturday, we are still seeking further details,” said Private Motor Truck Council of Canada president Mike Millian.
“For true relief to take effect, and allow the industry to continue to supply both our nations with our essential needs, we need both countries — at a minimum — to extend the time before this regulation will take effect, to allow more drivers to get fully vaccinated or provide testing options for those who are unvaccinated.”
The Canadian Trucking Alliance had estimated that as many as 12,000 to 16,000 of the 120,000 Canadian truck drivers who cross the border in their jobs could be lost based on current vaccination rates, adding to supply chain challenges.
Canadian truck drivers have been exempted from quarantine and testing requirements at the international border in their roles as essential workers throughout the pandemic.
About 40,000 U.S.-licensed truck drivers cross the border, the Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates.
The Canadian mandate was originally announced after the U.S. announced plans for a vaccine mandate to apply to border-crossing truck drivers. That rule is expected to be enforced beginning Jan. 22, although few details about enforcement plans have emerged.