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Canada to require COVID vaccines for US truckers

Unvaccinated drivers won’t be able to cross border starting Jan. 15

Trucks enter Canada from the U.S. via the Peace Bridge linking Ontario and Buffalo, NY. (Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

U.S. truck drivers will only be able to enter Canada if they are fully vaccinated starting Jan. 15, under new requirements announced Friday.

The vaccination requirement, which will apply to most essential workers, comes as Canadian truckers face a similar mandate from the U.S. government, which is coming in early January. When both take effect, only vaccinated truckers will be allowed to move freight between the U.S. and Canada. 

The Canadian Trucking Alliance pushed back against the Canadian requirement, arguing that it is being implemented too soon and will result in larger numbers of truckers  dropping out of cross-border operations. The CTA had also been advocating for a delay on the U.S. mandate. 

“We are extremely concerned there is a perfect storm brewing,” CTA President Steve Laskowski said in a statement. “In light of worldwide supply chain disruptions and delays, it’s unclear how the supply chain and the trucking industry, in particular, can withstand further turmoil and maintain the service levels required to deliver critical products Canadians and Americans need.”  

The CTA, which represents about 4,500 carriers in Canada, estimates that 38,000 drivers, or about 24%, could drop out of cross-border trucking because of the mandates. About 120,000 Canadian and 40,000 U.S. drivers move freight between the two countries, according to the CTA. 

Truckers and other essential workers had been exempt from vaccine requirements that Canada and the U.S. had put on foreign nations. But Omar Alghabra, Canada’s minister of transportation, said the new measures were necessary.  

“As we restart many aspects of our economy, including travel, vaccination will continue to play an important role in keeping each other and our transportation systems safe and secure, no matter the final destination, ensuring travelers are vaccinated against COVID-19 protects travelers and transportation workers,” Alghabra said in a statement. 

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected].