Trucking associations question new Covid-19 requirements at border

by Today's Trucking

Canadian trucking associations are pushing back against plans to require border-crossing truck drivers to submit contact information and travel details through the ArriveCAN app, as well as any proposal to require drivers to submit recent Covid-19 test results.

Non-essential travelers now have to submit proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours, but truck drivers are exempt from such requirements as essential workers. Their screening is currently limited to a series of questions asked at the land crossings.

Covid-19 testing
Canada’s public safety minister has said the government is looking at plans to require cross-border truck drivers to submit proof of negative Covid-19 tests. (File photo)

But questions about whether truck drivers should be included in the testing program emerged this weekend, when Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told CBC that the government was exploring the idea.

“We’re working very closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and also with our provincial health authorities to [look] at implementing a system of regular testing to help protect those essential workers and truck drivers that are coming into the country and also to ensure that they’re not the source of any new infection,” he said on Rosemary Barton Live.

In a statement released today, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) stressed that Covid-19 spread among trucking company employees has been “extremely minimal”, and highlighted that longhaul trucking tends to be self-isolating and limits contacts with others.

“CTA is not supportive of mandatory Covid testing of truck drivers (at the border),” the CTA statement says, noting that many border crossings would not be able to hand a testing system or be able to turn loads around because drivers failed to submit a negative test.

Congestion at border crossings could become extreme with the additional screening, causing many drivers to run out of hours, it adds.

Instead, CTA is calling on the federal government to explore the idea of voluntary test sites that can be accessed through truck stops and rest areas, rather than setting up tests at the border itself.

Coming app requirements

Meanwhile, the CTA and Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) have each raised concerns about plans to require all travelers to submit information and a quarantine plan through the ArriveCAN app as of Feb 22.

“I have received numerous calls and emails from members whose drivers have been told at various border crossings, by several CBSA border officers, that effective Monday they will need to submit their information via the app,” says PMTC president Mike Millian.

“When drivers have informed them they did not have a device to download the ArriveCAN app, they have been told they will be detained and fined.”

“A conservative estimate of upwards of 20% of the cross-border truck driving community does not currently have access to smartphone technology, meaning alternative methods for complying with this potential requirement must be developed,” CTA says.

Onboard communications systems are also unsuitable for personal use with the ArriveCAN app, it adds.

In a letter asking for clarification from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Millian referred to a 55-truck fleet that uses a walkie-talkie style of communication system and crosses the border multiple times per day.

“When the driver told the officer [that] he did not have the ability to download the app, the officer told him that was his problem,” Millian said.

“If you’re exempt from quarantine, you don’t have to include a quarantine plan through ArriveCAN,” a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada told Today’s Trucking.

“However, you must still submit your contact information, travel details and any symptoms you may be experiencing. You don’t need to provide symptom self-assessments after you enter Canada.”

  • This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. Previous information was corrected to reflect that truck drivers are not required to submit quarantine plans.

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  • Many truck drivers do not even have working cell phones
    Smart phones need to be supplied by the trucking company if needed with a data pkg. I agree that truck drivers shoulda plan and a place to stay between trips. Some C T A members will not like the cost of a tablet or smart phone. Also many truck drivers including myself often stay in homeless shelters.

    • We are truckers…we should go home not be tested , we don’t even associate with people for crying out load and maybe after us truckers staying home , when the public begins to starve and have no fuel or medical supplies , you would sure want them back running!!! Braindead people!!

  • Just stop crossing the border and soon(2 days) and all shelves and parts will be depleted. I think they might change their minds when the politicians partners are not able to buy groceries anymore

  • I was off for just over two weeks around Christmas and New Year. I could not get a test and the reason I was told was because I didn’t have any symptoms. This is a joke to treat drivers at the border like we are the problem.

  • I don’t fully understand modern technology, it’s like another language. I don’t what apps do or how they work or might interfere with the settings on my phone. I don’t even know if my phone will accept them.
    Gigs, bytes, rams? May as well be Martian talk to me.

  • Is good idea,to slow down our industry,and create massive problems,to all Canadians. If they help,to stop infections? No. Absolutely NO.
    True,-good idea:built more rest areas,and more places to stop and rest with showers. Moving our industry,to level up=much better services,higher safety and intelligence,and even more.

  • Sorry to turn this into a political discussion but Trudeau and Bill Blair have to go. This is the most idiotic thing they have come up with to deflect from the abysmal job the Liberals have done on Vaccine acquisition and rollout. If Truck Drivers were a problem for COVID spread we would have seen numbers spike in the summer and fall of 2020. No. Do not load the Arrive Can app and maybe yes to using the rapid testing at some place away from the border itself

  • Why not just vaccinate the drivers that cross the border. Simply stop the non-vaccincaters from crossing the border. The vaccine is for the good of everyone.

  • The population rely on trucking for a continuous standard of living and if any driver would feel sick don’t anyone think that same driver would talk with it’s dispatch ?? expressing his worries?/
    Coming back home after a lengthy trip some drivers have their home in their truck and stay at truck stop for that 34 hours reset so if it is all shut down where does he goes like he is homeless.
    It is most definitely a little problem.
    Leave the politicians out of this one the system seems to work.

  • This is a bunch of crap long haul divers are pretty much self isolated..yes but when they go to a truck stop for fuel or a meal or a shower every tom dick or Harry from the general public is in there. Where do you think they’re going to get this virus from. And that’s because they don’t care about the health of the driver…it’s all about the money

  • Another act of slight of hand by justin Trudeau for screwing the vaccine distribution, let’s just sink our economy now and call it day, and people wonder why I hate living in Canada

  • It doesn’t make sense for drivers to be under the same rules as non essential. For the most part the drivers don’t run a set schedule and where are they suppose to test in the U.S 3 days before they cross the border, and for some they might only be in the U.S for a day or less, are they suppose to test before returning. My husband runs south and I can tell you that he has no kind of set schedule. So how is he suppose to test before crossing the border. Living on P.E.I he tests every time he comes home and if he is home more than 5 days he tests again. He usually isn’t home long enough for the second test. If you want to keep the trucks moving and keep product crossing the border stop making it harder and harder for these guys to work. Eventually they will decide that they don’t want to keep dealing with all this crap and stay on our own side. They are just trying to make a living so stop changing the rules for essential people every time the rules change for non essential people. If you want to change the rules at least learn how this industry works. Get in a truck with a driver for 2 weeks and see how these rules would work in the real world.

  • If the border becomes a issue for testing for trucks, it will slow down trucks, also less drivers will cross the boarder due to hassles, which means less trailers for supplies, more unemployment. What is next Province to Province testing for trucks. Not Good
    Trucking is essential service – no trucks , no food, no clothing, etc. stores will be empty and the hording of items will happen and a black market will begin gouging prices. Not Good, very bad idea