The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is warning that a federal vaccine mandate planned for truck drivers will severely disrupt a fragile and beleaguered supply chain.
This recently announced mandate builds on plans to require border-crossing truck drivers to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 15. Previous mandates for federally regulated workers have focused on other transportation modes.
Combining the two vaccine mandates, the CTA believes 15,000-30,000 truck drivers would leave the supply chain or choose to work in the underground economy. “Driver Inc.” businesses that misclassify employees as independent contractors do so to avoid tax and labor obligations like the proposed vaccine mandate, CTA says.
“This is a supply chain issue that can have severe ripple effects throughout the entire North American economy,” says CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “It hasn’t been easy, but the Canadian trucking industry has continued to move the economy through the global pandemic as efficiently as possible despite continuous challenges and obstacles. We have done that by working with governments and health care experts to implement health and safety protocols that keep our workforce safe while also ensuring factories keep operating and store shelves remain full.”
In a notice issued this weekend, the CTA called on federal governments in Canada and the U.S. to consider “a more suitable policy approach and timeline.” The U.S. is widely expected to introduce its vaccine mandate for border-crossing truck drivers by Jan. 22.
The alliance cited a Nanos Research poll it commissioned in November, finding that 83% of respondents feel that it’s becoming harder to secure goods.
“The growing worry among the Canadian public are not unfounded. The current challenges faced by the supply chain, which include an acute and growing truck driver shortage, will worsen significantly if the Government of Canada moves ahead to mandate a vaccine policy for the trucking industry in early 2022,” CTA said.
The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) raised similar concerns when responding to vaccine-related consultations by Employment and Social Development Canada.
“Recent numbers from Health Canada indicate 86.42% of those 12 and above have been fully vaccinated. If we assume these numbers can be translated to the truck driver workforce, this means a vaccine mandate,= will eliminate roughly 13.5% of the eligible Canadian driver workforce. Canada employs roughly 300,000 truck drivers, meaning 40,500 drivers may be out of work, and leave vacancies for trucks that provide essential supplies,” said PMTC president Mike Millian.
Given the time that drivers spend on the road, and the timelines needed between vaccine doses, the PMTC is asking for a delay of at least 9 months before enforcing a vaccine mandate on federally regulated truck drivers.
“We need to provide extra time for drivers who reconsider and decide to get fully vaccinated, to have time to do so, and we need to provide time for companies to implement the policy to comply with a regulation that is not even posted yet,” Millian said.
- An original version of this article was updated to include comments from the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.
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