Canada’s cross-border truck drivers to face vaccine mandate … again

Canada’s on-and-off vaccine mandate for its cross-border truck drivers appears to be on once again – meaning new restrictions for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated truck drivers as of Jan. 15.

Seeming to reverse positions twice in 24 hours, the federal government says it will require Canada’s unvaccinated or partially vaccinated truck drivers to quarantine after traveling to the U.S. when the mandate takes hold. Truck drivers have, until this point in the pandemic, been exempted from such requirements under their roles as essential workers.

Canada U.S. border
(Photo: istock)

Wednesday evening, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reported that it was preparing to turn unvaccinated U.S. truck drivers away from the border. But it seemed to ease the added restrictions for Canadian drivers, just hours after meeting with trucking industry representatives to reinforce the mandate.

Late Thursday afternoon, the federal government reinforced its initial position.

“Starting January 15, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers entering Canada will need to meet requirements for pre-entry, arrival and Day 8 testing, as well as quarantine requirements,” federal ministers of health, transport and public safety said in a joint statement released on Thursday afternoon.

“This has not changed. The information shared yesterday was provided in error. Our teams have been in touch with industry representatives to ensure they have the correct information.”

Canadian truck drivers who are not fully vaccinated can’t be denied entry into Canada, they added.

“As of Jan. 15, 2022, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign national truck drivers, coming to Canada from the U.S. by land, will be directed back to the United States.”

Fully vaccinated truck drivers will include those who have received at least two doses of a vaccine accepted for travel.

The U.S. is widely expected to begin enforcing a similar vaccine mandate on Jan. 22.

“This just goes to the core of how misguided and ill-informed they have been on so many issues,” said Dan Einwechter, CEO of Challenger Motor Freight. “They’re chasing an answer to a question – they just don’t know what the question is anymore. It’s an embarrassment to Canada.

“I’m concerned that the confusion and the dismay we’ve had on many issues for the last two years will continue.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has 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. In a statement released Thursday it continued to call on the Canadian and U.S. government to establish a more suitable enforcement date.

“This is catastrophic for the supply chain,” said Doug Sutherland, CEO of Sutco Transportation. “This is so disappointing for Canadian families. Fiscally, Canadians can’t afford this inflation, and it’s devastating for our economy … How much more can families pay at the grocery store?”

The announcements also contribute to a fear among unvaccinated and under-vaccinated truck drivers, leading many to look for other work, he said. His fleet has already lost some employees over that very issue.

Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, certainly agrees that the shifting policies added to confusion.

“Some drivers were dispatched yesterday with the understanding they wouldn’t be required to quarantine when they returned,” he said. “No warning and no reach out to industry. If this was truly an error in messaging, why did it take government 16 hours to fix the error?”

  • This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Wow. I hope everyone is stocked up. This could be a bumpy ride. Mandates are a very slippery slope and this is a sad day for democracy and freedom.

  • Well I have great hope that if you are not vaccinated then the government on both sides should tell you to stay in your own country. This isn’t about shortage this is about culture. Most Muslims will not vaccinated some christian groups will not vaccinated. This is a choice you have taken conciquences come with choice. So suck it up as for the government they should not be controlled by culture not big business. Seems like companies like TFI Group and the trucking association have screwed the industry little guy one more time.

    • When a product is manufatured to solve a problem but creates more problems, it is time to throw away the product and the idea. Overall in Canada more than 80% are vaccinated but have not resolved anyhting. Will increasing the % of vaccinated help? Quebec is 90% vaccinated. Things are worse before the vaccine, the lock down and restrictions.

    • They never asked for any other vaccinations before but why just this one? And it doesn’t prevent transmission or infection? These two countries are interlinked so much with trade it is a shame to require a non-sterilizing vaccine. Canada can’t survive very long without the US.

  • They have not communicated with industry….they finally have a meeting set up for us at 6:30pm tonight….after the reversal of the reversal was already leaked…..no communication with industry on this since yesterday afternoon…..absolute embarrassment…..

    • Every one is confused about .this. the private companies have done a much better job of providing for their drivers. I was on the radio across the Canada about the lack of safe quards for truck drivers and airline employees and P S Ws in ont. I live in a homeless shelter that is saying that all truck drivers need the ont gov to protect me and the other homeless disabled drivers.

  • As long as the U.S. still plans to enforce vaccinations for transport drivers, it doesn’t matter what Canada does. If you can’t enter the U.S. unvaccinated, you don’t have to worry about the rules for re entering Canada because you can’t leave in the first place!

    • There’s thousands of drivers won’t go south . That are vaccinated. Why go through all the red tape to start out with . Nobody isn’t thinking of that .

    • Me too but only 16 years. Welcome to the club. Someone has to be in the control group or how will we know if these vaccines work! I read a report in France saying a manufacturer couldn’t get a new vaccine approved because they couldn’t find enough unvaccinated to conduct a study if their vaccine worked.

  • This is not rite what they are doing to all people !! When does it stop ? It will never Stop . As long we don’t stay an stand beside each other, we are weak !! If we stay and Stand Together As One ! We Are Strong !! God Bless We The People
    ⚔️❤️⚔️

  • When a product is manufatured to solve a problem but creates more problems, it is time to throw away the product and the idea. Overall in Canada more than 80% are vaccinated but have not resolved anyhting. Will increasing the % of vaccinated help? Quebec is 90% vaccinated. Things are worse before the vaccine, the lock down and restrictions.

  • Well that old phrase ‘the world is going to Hell in a handbasket’ has finally come to fruition. What are the naval gazers in government thinking?? There are no words to describe the idiocy going on by our elected officials, not just here but around the whole globe.

  • When are our two countries going to realize we need to harmonize our actions concerning the trucking industries. When releasing mandates, hours of service, E-log ,minimum entry level requirements..etc. Why can’t these things be under a unified agreement governed by the two federal bodies. It is mind numbing , the amount of difference the two countries, states and provinces have in place. We have had the NSC standards and NAFTA put in place. Why not the entire industry. Just a thought.

  • That’s going to throw a spanner in to an already supposedly tight supply line.
    Lot more empty shelves, higher prices for things, idle trucks sitting.

  • This is insanity! People’s livelihoods are at stake here, and these bureaucrats are playing political games. Why do this? Over the past 2 years trucking has proved that they are not a threat in this pandemic (I challenge anyone to prove otherwise). Also, the publicly available data very clearly shows that vaccination does not keep you from catching or spreading the disease (go check the CDC), and if you are under 60 and in relatively good health there is a very (very) small probability of hospitalization, let alone death from this disease, especially with this latest variant. So again, why do this? If you are still in the group that thinks this is about safety, wake up! it’s time to save our country.

    • Exactly! They are public servants. They don’t tell us(the boss) what to do! Look up De-facto government in Blacks Law Dictionary 4th Edition.
      Nobody can suspend our rights under any conditions! Nobody! It’s time to drain the scum from
      our swamp!

    • We need to unite. A nationwide strike will be hard for us but we do it now consciously or we feel it bit by bit as the government takes our freedom. This is not about illness. It’s a gov shift to totalitarianism. Please let’s wake up those asleep. Like the Frog in the bucket…people are sitting comfy in the warm water while we are slowly boiled to death and don’t see it coming till it is too late.
      Time to take action

  • Interfering or stuttering a supply chain is considered an act of war.. Who knew it would be our own Government doing it to us? There are 1000s of people a day in Walmart and Costco without a mandatory vaccination policy upon entry.. long haul drivers see no where near that number in any day or even a full year…. ever. Absurd policy at a time when neither nation can afford increased costs or depleted supplies. There is no scientific evidence to support this mandate.

  • What about truckers who are vaccinated. And will still refuse going south . And just can’t be bothered with all the red tape . There 1000s of truckers like that . That are not accounted for that percentage.

  • We’re two years into this. The real question should be why aren’t these men and women who perform an essential frontline service already vaccinated.
    Steven Pearlman, the author of “America’s Critical Thinking Crisis”, was recently quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as follows “We don’t have a populace that was taught to think critically through their education …what we have instead is people who confuse an opinion they may have based on a source that is not reliable with actual critical thinking done by people who have the expertise to do so.”
    In other words, stop getting your information from social medial. Pay attention to credible health authorities. Let’s all do our part. Get vaccinated.

  • I support the truckers as do Most of the people I know that are Vax’d or not. This is outrageous.
    All truckers vax’d or not, might consider a nationwide strike and let our economy go down a bit faster than our government is trying to tank it.
    The government needs to wake up.
    So we all suck it up and hunker down. Truckers are the main artery of our economy. Shut it down …full stop.
    That might make the government think.
    But Canadians need to support the truckers.
    By the way…I do not know a truckers personally. I am just a Canadian with a little common sense and a passion for freedom.