Cross Border Shipping Vaccine Requirement Looms
If you’re planning on going shopping this week, it might be a good idea to stock up on some fresh fruit and veggies as starting next week they may get even more expensive – thanks to the impact of the vaccine mandate and cross border trade.
That’s because starting Saturday, the Canadian government will require that all non-vaccinated Canadian truck drivers returning to Canada quarantine for 14 days after returning to the country. The new rule, which was announced late last year, will also see the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA), turn away any American unvaccinated drivers attempting to enter Canada. This measure, in tandem with rules from the US government taking effect on Jan 22nd, are aimed at reducing the spread of COVID and increasing the number of vaccinated truck drivers, and members of the general public, on both sides of the border. However, the new measures are not without strong critiques.
The push back & possible fallout
Since the rules were announced there has been pushback from countless groups, from Industry advocates and supply chain experts to freight forwarders and individual drivers. One of the loudest opponents of the new mandate has been the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), an association of several provincial trucking groups which lobbies in the interest of Canadian truck drivers. The CTA has projected that 10-20% of the 120,000 Canadian drivers who regularly cross the border will be forced off the job due to the new rules. It’s likely that a similar percentage of the 40,000 US Cross Border drivers will be affected by the rule as well. Industry experts say that these losses would disproportionately harm smaller companies that don’t have the resources or capabilities that large companies have. With two-thirds of Canada-US trade moving by truck, it’s likely that any sort of driver shortage would have ripple effects that could displace millions of dollars of goods.
Despite trucks crossing freely since the beginning of the pandemic, despite lockdowns, the government’s tone has switched to one much more committed to a stricter inoculation policy. Despite the onslaught of public pushback, the Trudeau government is going ahead with the new rules come hell or high water, though they say the water might not be that high. The government has assured Canadians that they do not expect significant disruptions or shortages as a result of the new mandate. The government also estimates that only 5% of drivers will even be affected by the rule, a far cry from the CTA’s 10-20% estimate.
With an existing shortage of nearly 20,000 cross-border truckers, any impact on the labour supply of drivers will no doubt have an impact on the price and availability of products moving across the border. This isn’t just a concern of the transportation industry either. With the inflation rate already rising to a nearly two-decade high, any increase in the price of transportation will contribute to add to the snowball effects that are growing around the globe. With transportation costs from Asia already rising, as we’ve mentioned before in our newsletter, adding more barriers on the southern border will add pressure to an already squeezed supply chain. Despite the good intentions our fingers are crossed from a last-minute change of heart from the Canadian government in order to keep more essential drivers on the road.
January 13th update
As pressure mounted approaching the mandates roll out the CBSA walked back their position on the mandate, saying that Canadian truckers who are unvaccinated would now be exempt for quarantining after returning from the states. The CBSA did uphold that it would turn away unvaccinated American drivers who try to enter Canada.
See our December Post (Crossborder Vaccine Pushback) for more history on this topic.