Cost of the trucker vaccine mandate
The Canadian Trucking Alliance is condemning protests spurred by newly-enforced vaccine mandates at the U.S.-Canada border.
Across the country, truckers lined up and paraded their vehicles at several international crossings this week — with the RMCP estimating 30 to 40 semi-trucks protesting in Manitoba on Monday alone. Videos have flooded social media and a trending hashtag has been seen on Twitter for several days.
On Wednesday, the Canadian Trucking Alliance said it "does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways and bridges," adding that interfering with public safety is not how disagreement with government policies should be expressed.
"Members of the trucking industry who want to publicly express displeasure over government policies can choose to hold an organized, lawful event on Parliament Hill and not disrupt the travelling public," the CTA said in a statement. "Otherwise, those who want to express disagreement responsibly can also participate in online petitions and write or speak to their local MPs."
Canadian Border Services agents began to ask Canadian truckers for proof of vaccination on Jan. 15, refusing entry into the country for unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated American truckers altogether. Canadians who could not prove that they received at least two doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine have been ordered to quarantine and face testing requirements.
That caused dozens of truckers at Manitoba's U.S. border to protest against the directives. And now, truckers from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are planning further "convoys" to other borders, according to private posts on Facebook groups.
One such group of demonstrators are planning to drive to Ottawa from B.C. and assemble at Parliament Hill on Jan. 23. "I'm expecting hundreds to go from Vancouver alone and we'll pick up more along the way," said the group's organizer, Colin Valentim, in an interview.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the mandates at a press conference Wednesday, adding that details about its imminence were announced late last year. "We have been consistent on that," he told reporters.
"There was a miscommunication from an official last week that contradicted that. That was quickly corrected. But trucking companies and logistics companies have known since November that this was coming," Trudeau said.
"We will continue to make sure that we are getting what we need in Canada while, as always, putting the safety and health of Canadians as our top priority."
According to the American Trucking Association, approximately 50 to 60 per cent of U.S. truckers are vaccinated. On the other hand, the CTA estimates roughly 10 per cent of Canadian truckers are unvaccinated.
Still, experts have said the mandate for truckers is causing turmoil for the North American supply chain, which was already bearing the brunt of pandemic-led issues and extreme weather events, along with worker shortages.
The U.S. government is expected to enact a similar version of the Canadian government vaccine policy on Jan. 22.