Fourteen Republican U.S. senators have asked President Joe Biden to exempt Canadian truck drivers who cross the U.S.-Canada border from a fast-approaching vaccine mandate for foreign essential workers in January, saying the requirement will disrupt the North American supply chain.
The letter, led by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, also called on the Biden administration to work with the Canadian government to exempt truckers from that country’s reciprocal vaccine requirement — also taking effect in January.
“Despite the good intentions underpinning this action, we fear that the imposition of vaccination mandates as a requirement to cross the land border will exacerbate the existing challenges facing our freight networks and supply chain, and could further fuel inflation and rising prices on top of what Americans are already seeing,” the senators wrote in the letter, dated last Friday.
Watch now: Should drivers get vaccinated?
They echoed concerns raised by industry groups that the mandate, which reportedly takes effect Jan. 22, would lead thousands of drivers to leave cross-border freight. The Canadian Trucking Alliance has called for the requirement to be pushed back, while the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is opposing it altogether.
“Our nation’s truck drivers worked diligently during the pandemic to facilitate critical cross-border freight movements that helped to feed and clothe American communities. Now, implementing these policies could cost them their jobs,” the senators said in the letter.
To date, the U.S. and Canadian governments have shown no signs of walking back or postponing the vaccine requirements coming to the border.
Even if the Biden administration were to make an exception for truckers, it would effectively be superseded by a vaccination mandate coming in early 2022 to employers regulated by the Canadian government, which includes all cross-border trucking companies.
Canadians account for about 75% of the truckers who move freight between the U.S. and Canada. The Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates that around 20% of drivers could leave cross-border freight entirely because of the vaccine mandate.
A Montreal-based carrier recently announced that it is giving its vaccinated drivers a CA$10,000 (US$7,800) bonus. Meanwhile, some carriers have been boosting mileage rates for cross-border drivers.
Joining Daines in the letter were Sens. Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven of North Dakota; James Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho; John Thune of South Dakota; Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran of Kansas; Mike Braun of Indiana; Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; Roger Wicker of Mississippi; Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; and Susan Collins of Maine.
- Canadian truckers forced to choose: COVID vaccines or forfeit US runs
- Report: US to require vaccines for cross-border foreign truckers starting Jan. 22
- Canada to require COVID vaccines for US truckers