Manitoba

Truckers wanted — no vaccination required: Manitoba Trucking Association

The Manitoba Trucking Association, which represents 60 to 75 per cent of trucks on the road in the province, says drivers can still make a living even if they are not vaxxed, despite claims by some protesters that being unvaxxed has cost them their livelihood

‘I've seen ads as recently as today for Canada-only drivers': head of MTA

Ste. Anne, Man.-based Terrain Transport truck photographed on Mackenzie Avenue and Rideau Street, a few minutes walk away from Parliament Hill. The company's owner says four of his drivers are there taking part in the protest over COVID-19 restrictions. (convoytraitors.ca)

Long-haul drivers can earn a living even if they are not vaxxed, despite claims by some protesters that being unvaxxed has cost them their livelihood, the Manitoba Trucking Association says

"I've seen ads recently as today for Canada-only drivers," said MTA executive director Aaron Dolyniuk, whose organization represents 60 to 75 per cent of trucks on the road in the province.

"I would say that there are lots of fleets actively recruiting drivers for Canada-only driving, which is not currently under any vaccine mandate."

As of Jan.22, the U.S. will only let in vaccinated drivers, and Canada requires proof of vaccination at the border to avoid stringent testing and quarantine. The Canadian Trucking Alliance says the vast majority of truck drivers are vaccinated and the rate mirrors that of the general public, which Health Canada pegs at 83 per cent. 

St. Anne, Man.-based Terrain Transport sent four of its un-vaxxed drivers to Ottawa to join the Freedom Convoy and the owner says they can stay as long as they want since they can't earn a living under current vaccination mandates.

Terrain Transport owner Leonard Petkau says half of his 25 drivers are vaccinated and they still make cross-border runs loaded up with Manitoba potatoes and returning with American produce. 

The other half are sitting idle. 

"They can't work … what difference does it make, whether they sit at home or in Ottawa? They can't create revenue," Petkau said in an interview with CBC News. 

Petkau has no problem with his drivers who are vaccinated, he says it's their choice. But he believes the vaccine mandate is taking un-vaxxed truckers' livelihoods away and "that is not proper."

Petkau says there is not enough domestic shipping to keep all his drivers busy, so he put his money where his mouth is and paid for the diesel and the wear and tear on his rigs so some of his truckers could take part in the Ottawa protest.

"That's minor, I'm willing to sacrifice that," Petkau said.

Dolyniuk is quick to say the protesters do not reflect the views of the majority of trucking companies.

"I don't think the actions of a few speak for the rest of our industry," he said. "And when I look at the protests, it's less a trucking protest and more a protest regarding restrictions and freedom of choice and vaccination. I think trucks were the vehicle for that." 

The MTA is calling on all levels of government to bring the current blockades in Manitoba to an end.

"These illegal actions are having a negative impact on the Manitoba economy," Dolyniuk said. 

He agrees that charter rights give everyone the right to peacefully protest.

"That being said, I don't know that these protests are peaceful," Dolyniuk said.

On Friday, Premier Heather Stefanson said most of the responsibility for dealing with protesters falls to the federal government.

"Some of these protests are taking [place] at the border as a result of something that the prime minister of our country implemented. It's not something that's unique to Manitoba," Stefanson said at a news conference.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for demonstrators to stand down or risk severe consequences including criminal charges and steep fines for any illegal activities at a news  conference Friday.

He said police and all levels of government are getting ready to take action against the protesters behind the blockades.






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