After nearly 24 hours of confusion surrounding vaccine mandates for truckers, the federal government now says it had erroneously walked back previous COVID-19 protocols, adding it plans to stick to the original plan of enforcing vaccination requirements at the U.S.-Canada border.

Starting Saturday, truck drivers entering Canada will have to present proof of vaccination without any exemptions — a decision that has been changed by the federal government at least three times in the last week before the new rules kick in.

According to a late Thursday statement, federal ministers said unvaccinated Canadians coming into the country will have to take a COVID-19 test and enter isolation, while Americans will be turned away immediately at the border. 

On Wednesday, however, The Canadian Press reported that the Canada Border Services Agency would allow Canadian truckers to enter the country without having to quarantine, even if they were unvaccinated or had received only one dose.

"The information shared yesterday was provided in error. Our teams have been in touch with industry representatives to ensure they have the correct information," reads the Thursday statement written on behalf of the federal ministers of health, transport and public safety.

"Starting January 15, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers entering Canada will need to meet requirements for pre-entry, arrival and Day 8 testing, as well as quarantine requirements... The final decision regarding entry and quarantine is made by a government representative at the port of entry, based on the information presented to them at the time.”

Thursday's last-minute reversal is something that the Canadian Trucking Alliance said will impact at least 12,000 workers — roughly 10 per cent of the country’s entire labour pool for truckers — and will create major hurdles for supply chains across North America.

It also comes at a time when Canada has been grappling with a shortage of at least 23,000 truck drivers as of the end of last year, according to Statistics Canada. 

A similar version of the federal government vaccine policy is expected to be mirrored by U.S. officials as early as next week. The American Trucking Association estimates nearly 16,000 U.S. drivers will no longer be able to continue their regular freight hauls to Canada as a result of that policy.

With files from Noah Zivitz